What is company culture?
Company culture is an important part of the workplace.
Company culture is the invisible intangible stuff that makes or breaks all businesses in the long run. It doesn’t even have to be that the culture is particularly bad. But think, a business with an ‘okay’ culture is almost never the market leader. It isn’t something that can put aside for two years and revisit it when you might have a bit more time. It’s something that requires your focus and time, now.
It’s important to understand that good company cultures aren’t created naturally. They are products of planning and effort. They require thought.
“If you want to build a ship,
don’t drum up the people
to gather wood, divide the
work, and give orders.
Instead, teach them to yearn
for the vast and endless sea.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (The Little Prince)
The traditional model for business culture
Throughout the world, business cultures vary from country to country. Different places have different priorities. In Japan, for example, respect
In the UK, many businesses don’t realise the importance of good company culture and will refer to this as ‘building bridges’. For most of us, we don’t work separated by a river running through the office. Company cultures matter and they go beyond tired metaphors. A bad culture can cripple a company.
But, what defines a bad culture?
Characteristics of a bad company culture
Some characteristics of
- High percentage of redundancies and/or dismissals
- Amount of work-related stress absence
- Management focusing on short-term profit over a long-term vision
- Lack of or poor internal communication between staff
- Lack of empathy between leadership, management and workers
- Micromanagement of staff, demonstrating there is no trust from managers
- A competitive atmosphere is encouraged between colleagues
- Inefficient management of people and processes
- Hyper-awareness of competitors and ‘beating’ other businesses
Business brand and company culture
A common tactic for businesses looking to develop a ‘culture’ is that they try to derive their business values from their brand. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing to do, however many organisations don’t delve deep enough into developing those values. Most businesses define their brand by the services or products they sell, with their culture as a ‘gap-filler’. It’s an after-thought.
Really, a company’s culture should be at the centre of the process, with brand serving a slightly different purpose. Still, brand should be an extension of culture, because it is a proven way to attract loyal customers:
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
The building blocks of company culture
A great business culture comes from the people, but it has to be an effort led by the C-suite. A CEO must be the guiding force behind culture by constantly ensuring it is a priority, and by demonstrating the business values as an example to employees. With a small
However, for both SMBs and large enterprises, at a basic level, you need to address 3 main factors:
Your need a vision or purpose that people will follow and believe in. This can be further developed into a set of core values.
You need supporting internal structures and consistent management training to improve relationships, trust and empathy.
You need to make sure you are hiring the right people, and not allowing toxic influences to ruin your business. Remember, a high performer with a bad personal culture is more dangerous than a low performer.
A bad culture can create deep rifts within workplaces, but its reaches can go beyond the office. Many people experience depression, anxiety and a host of work-related stresses that can affect their whole life:
“When companies have a poor culture, 48.4