Corporate culture is the identity and personality of an organization. Culture is dynamic, ever-changing and evolves with the growth of a business. The DNA of an organization, it is a combination of leadership styles, procedures and demographics within an company.
Frances Frei and Anne Morriss from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) state,
“Culture guides discretionary behavior and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which of course, is most of the time.”
Building a Corporate Culture
A corporate culture is built over time. In order for a culture to be successful, those at an organization must speak the same language and be on the same page on what your values are. To create a long-lasting culture that every employee understands, adaptations must occur as the company grows.
Corporate culture can affect:
- Employee Retention: Reduce turnover and increase morale by appreciating contributions from team members
- Reputation: Maintain a positive reputation to help attract and connect with future employees or clients
- Productivity: Experience better performance through improved morale
Building a corporate culture isn’t easy and there is no recipe for success. In fact, fewer than 10 percent of organizations actually succeed in building one. It sets the tone of a company and dictates how the team interacts both internally and externally.
According to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota,
“Corporate culture is, above all else, the most important factor in driving innovation.”
Thriving cultures have a common language which enables teams to understand each other. To ensure that these principles are being followed, organizations must create standards as a way to measure.
Leaders must reflect the values and standards of an organization. By leading through example, they convey a cultural work ethic that inspire others. Instead of declaring culture shifts that an organization wishes to see, provide examples. Often times, significant change is a product of social movements, and that despite the differences between private enterprises and society, leaders can learn from how these initiators engage and mobilize the masses to institutionalize new societal norms.
For example, successful organization’s aren’t built upon employees that simply, go to work, do what they’re told, and just help someone else achieve their dream. Organizations that thrive have employees that look forward to going to work and appreciate that their ideas are appreciated. Leaders that understand that good decisions can come from anywhere is a cornerstone of attracting talented individuals who will fit into the culture if you let them. Organizations that thrive, understand that their employees are their biggest strength and will invest heavily in them.
Correlating Morale and Productivity
Employees that live organizational values, should be rewarded and receive recognition. For example, no organization will ever perfectly align every reward the behaviors we seek. However, a business should atleast be cognizant of the key elements of the cultural vision that they are trying to achieve and ensure that we recognize and reward those.
Employee morale directly effects company productivity and businesses that realize this will ensure sustained success.
Organizations that understand that culture is the foundation of their organization are:
- Southwest Airlines: Southwest puts its employees first. In doing so, they believe that employees will treat customers right which will increase business.
- Zappos: Zappos takes specific actions daily that reinforces its corporate culture. These actions include creating career paths, performance evaluations, training and creating a culture book written by employees.
- Twitter: Twitter ensures that each employee’s voice is heard without barriers.
- Etsy: Etsy encourages the hiring female engineers. In just one year, the organization has increased its number of female engineers by 500% and is attracting applicants that value diversity.
To begin mobilizing your corporate culture:
- Work with and within current cultural situations
- Alter behaviors by leading through example and mindsets will follow
- Focus on a few critical behaviors
- Assemble and deploy cultural ambassadors
- Link behaviors and business objectives
- Convey results
- Use cross organizational methods to promote messages
- Align programmatic efforts with behaviors
- Actively manage and promote your cultural situation over time
Questions for Candidates to Ask
For candidates looking to work at an organization, it’s important to look for a job where you feel as though you’d be a fit within a culture.
- Review an organization’s website: Check the company’s mission and values
- Complete research: Utilize resources like Glassdoor to see reviews from employees
- Ask questions: Throughout the interview process be sure to inquire about the work environment and the company culture
- Shadow an employee: Better understand how the office operates by shadowing an employee who would is working in a similar role
VALiNTRY’s Corporate Culture
At VALiNTRY, our values are at the core of our organization. Our values are:
- People Service: Enriching and serving our clients and employees
- Accountability: Being accountable and responsible to commitments and results
- Teamwork: Working together to support our team for the greater good
- Honesty and Integrity: Doing the right things the right way
- Innovation: Pushing beyond comfort zones to seek new solutions for ourselves and our clients
- Transparency: Always sharing the outcomes of the things that we do
Our company logo has a lowercase I to represent that our organization wins as a team. There upside down triangle represents our inverted organization structure where clients and employees are put before management.
Culture is invisible, but it can be seen and felt. They begin with a group of passionate enthusiasts who deliver a few modest wins. Reinforcing the message displays that an organization remains unified in promoting the corporate culture. While these wins are small, they’re powerful in demonstrating efficacy to nonparticipants, and they help the movement gain steam. The movement really gathers force and scale once this group successfully co-opts existing networks and influencers. Eventually, in successful movements, leaders leverage their momentum and influence to institutionalize the change in the formal power structures and rules of society.