For me, your corporate culture is your business’ success engine.
There are typically two different spheres of corporate culture – the formal and the informal.
The informal element of your business culture usually ties into business values, what you stand for and the norms you adhere to in your day-to-day operations.
The formal element of corporate culture has to do more with policies, governance and the accepted ethics around how you make money.
I’ve written so much about business strategy this year, highlighting how integral good leadership is to a business’ success. In the case of corporate culture, my argument is no different. If you want employees to embrace business culture, it has to start at the top. Leaders set the standard that the people working underneath them will ultimately follow.
If you’re in a leadership position in a business, all eyes are on you, which makes it critical for you to live, eat and breathe your brand and the culture your business represents.
All too often, when people talk about “corporate culture” they think about Friday afternoon staff drinks or team building outings. On the other end of the spectrum, “culture” can also be seen as something very restrictive.
But culture is so much more than this.
As a business leader, you want to create a culture that pursues growth, a culture that champions innovation, creates meaning and a culture that rewards and praises hard work.
This is particularly important as younger generations enter the workforce and demand that businesses rethink the nature and inner workings of broader corporate environments.
If your culture is heavily results driven and is only focused on making money, your workforce will likely spend much of their day worrying about slipping up because they know they’ll be penalised for every single mistake. This doesn’t encourage good work. A healthy corporate culture sees employees learning from their mistakes. And constantly challenges employees to learn, grow and be better at their jobs.
To me, this is one of the cornerstones of creating a sustainable business. Setting up the right foundation for how your business will deal with both good and bad. In my opinion, culture is so important that when hiring new staff, I’d choose a good cultural fit over talent. An employee can be the most talented individual but if they don’t fit into your business, they won’t add any real value. You can always train and teach someone but you can’t change a person’s character.
Consistency is key
If you don’t want a weak corporate culture, you need to be consistent. Strong leaders are living their business culture every day. This may mean having a “stand-up” meeting each day, going around to each office and greeting your staff each morning or writing personal cards for your employees on their birthdays. These behaviours set a precedent and act as inspiration for future leaders.
When talking about culture, it’s crucial to remember that just because Google has found success by allowing their employees to take afternoon naps and bring their pets to work, doesn’t mean that this corporate culture suits your business. I think of culture as being a bit like a fingerprint, every one is unique.
Businesses must make culture real, visible and fun. And it must be seen as one of the strategic drivers of your business plan. Keen to access more business and strategy advice? Sign up for our newsletter below.