Focusing on Company Culture

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Company culture is usually defined as the mindset, attitudes, experiences, beliefs, and shared values of a company. These attributes become the foundation for all actions and decisions within a team, department, and the company itself. More commonly, people describe their company culture as “the way we do things around here.”

It seems logical that a company culture would be defined by the people that work there, but surprisingly, that is not often the case. If you look at companies that don’t consciously manage their company culture, you’ll likely find a strong correlation between the owner/founder’s values and the overall culture. A culture that mirrors the founder’s beliefs does not always take into account the beliefs of the rest of the employees. Therefore the people who complain about the company culture are not usually the management, but the rest of the employees. And it doesn’t end with complaints; research has shown that a negative company culture also has a strong impact on morale, teamwork, knowledge transfer and employee retention.

So, is creating the right company culture just another HR strategy? It is much more than that. Culture must be created in order to accomplish a common purpose. By bringing together individuals from different generations, backgrounds or professions and integrating them into one culture, a company can experience creativity, expansion and accomplishment. However, when people with unique viewpoints, traditions and standards are not brought together under a proper company culture, it makes it difficult for the company to operate efficiently and achieve its business objectives. Especially in our current global working environment, the need emerges for strong, cohesive company cultures that pull all of the sub-cultures together. A proper culture cannot be created by organizing a company picnic.

But what can create a proper company culture? Unfortunately, there is no “one size fits all” approach when it comes to optimizing a company culture. Still, we have identified some key success factors to company culture change programs. From experience, we know that culture should be aligned with employee’s values. In addition, most successful companies will have certain culture traits or values in common, such as trust, respect, transparency, fairness, empowerment and pride. Oddly enough, while no company leader would ever argue that these values should not be in place, not all companies manage to put them into practice. This is where true leadership kicks in!

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