In the world where information flows so quickly and access to anything is a mere click away, non proprietary goods and services very quickly and easily fall into the ‘commodity zone’. So if everything you offer is being offered or can be offered by someone else, what makes you different? What makes your stand out from the competition? What is truly unique to you?
People. If people are what makes an organisation then how the people live, perform, communicate and interact with each other is the foundation of a great organisation. The organisation’s culture driven by core values determines how far the organisation can go. Just like how ethnic or societal cultures are passed down generations, the same applies to corporate culture. What is set in motion and is repeated perpetually becomes culture, is then sub-consciously taught and adopted by new colleagues and continues on forever. While you frequently hear the word corporate culture being associated with the likes of modern companies especially tech startups and those helmed by younger business owners, corporate culture exist in every organisation. If culture is the foundation then it definitely pays to pay attention to your organisation’s culture. While you hardly ever question the origins of your race/religious/national/family cultural practices, you can as a leader in your organisation create the desired culture and determine the direction and sustainability of the company. A consciously developed culture will serve as an advantage to the organisation for years if not forever.
“To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.”
– Doug Conant, Campbell Soup.
Here are 3 things to keep in mind when it comes to corporate culture.
Discuss and determine what and how you want your culture to be like, what are your core values, what is your ideal working environment, how should people behave, what are acceptable norms, put all these down on paper. Plan and design your culture to reflect your brand, plan and design your culture to create the atmosphere and outcomes that you desire and most importantly will serve the greater good and sustainability of the organisation. If you don’t plan your culture, nature takes its course and once its ingrained, change can be nearly impossible. Corporate culture must be intentional.
Stick to the plan and consciously practice your culture. Make it a point to not only remember what the culture is and your core values but to continuously return to that ‘plan’ and read it again and again. Repeat it so that you never forget. It is very easy to revert to what is ‘easy’ and forget what you’re trying to cultivate. Consciously practice your core values and be mindful of the things you are doing and saying, is that your culture? Remember, great things take time as Rome was not built in a day.
Always keep your eyes, ears, and heart open to what is happening within the organisation. Keep tabs of everything, ensure activities are being organised, ensure culture practices are being enforced, listen to what is being said, listen to your team and take action, make corrective adjustments and reinforcements whenever things being done or behaviours are not in-line with your culture. Most importantly, consciously monitor yourself every minute of the day to ensure you live the core values and culture.
In a later post, we’ll look at how we built, maintain and continuously make adjustments to create a positive culture that attracts and retains the current generation and strive to ensure our organisational sustainability. In the meantime, no matter where you are in an organisation, go forth and shape your organisation into a beautiful place that you want to work and live in.
“To make customers happy, we have to make sure our employees are happy first.”
– Tony Hsieh, Zappos.