When you’re ill
You often hear about successful organizations—Google included—that have what is referred to as a “great culture.” Great corporate cultures are often described as being ethical or innovative, for example; negative culture is often described as toxic.
Is there really such a thing as the perfect organizational culture? Why is it that culture is notoriously difficult to describe, measure, and alter, yet it is crucial to an organization’s success? Read on to learn more about what culture means, how it can be measured, and why it’s okay to want to be different.
Why focus on corporate culture?
Instead of delving head first into how to recognize and measure corporate culture, I want to take a step back and look at what makes up an organization’s culture, and why it’s so important.
Coming from an Organizational Development background, I have seen first-hand how an organization’s culture has a direct impact on employee engagement and motivation, subsequent retention rates, and ultimately whether the organization is successful.
From the outset, defining culture in itself is no easy feat, partly due to the lack of consensus on what it really is. Many sources speak of the values and behaviors that contribute to an organization’s environment. These sources define culture as the shared attitudes, beliefs, and customs of an organization, and is built around a set of written and unwritten rules, influenced and molded by:
- Policies and procedures
- Organizational structure
- Leadership styles
- Employee reward structures
- Corporate sector, e.g. legal, technology, manufacturing
- Although a company’s culture develops through its people, systems, and working environment, its influence is external, having an impact on stakeholders, customers, and the wider public perception of that company. Put it this way: When it comes to company culture, your reputation can either propel you to greatness or destroy you.
Let’s explore this further:
Would you feel comfortable purchasing goods from a store whose employees were clearly not happy? What if you heard from others how they’d previously had a negative experience with a company you were looking to invest in?
Again, reputation is something that can’t be seen or touched, but is extremely valuable. That’s why it’s critical to measure culture so you can more easily understand it, monitor it, and—if required—put strategies in place to change it.
just as every person has a unique personality, so too does every organization, manifesting as its corporate culture. Arguably a business’s biggest asset—its culture—can just as easily be a liability. Company culture has a major influence on employee behavior and turnover, with potential effects on productivity, growth, and overall performance.
Culture may be complex, but the benefits of a strong organizational culture are clear.
You need to have the knowledge and appropriate tools to be able to guide your business in a direction that aligns with the organization’s mission, vision, values, and goals.
Remember that building a positive culture can take time, but once you know the ingredients that work well for you and your business, you’ll reap the rewards of employee and customer loyalty, with the goal of excellent organizational performance and long-lasting success.
The group dynamics of culture exist 24/7/365 and they hold exert a powerful, often invisible influence on individual behavior and on group norms.
Bold cultural change efforts call on people at all levels to try out new behaviors, to envision more productive relationships, to challenge existing limits and to harness the natural forces of culture around standards of excellence.human desire for accomplishment – before any of this seems possible!
The most effective way to build resilient truly productive relationships is to gain an understanding of of culture dynamics and build an environment where sound relationships can thrive.
As awareness grows across the organization, mutual support creates synergy, innovation, and increased performance.