“Maintaining an effective culture is so important that it, in fact, trumps even strategy.”
Source: Howard Stevenson, via Kissmetrics
What is company culture? According to LinkedIn, it’s what identifies you as an organization – your norms, values, and personality:
“Organizational culture consists of shared beliefs and values established by the organization’s leaders and then communicated and reinforced through various methods, ultimately shaping employee perceptions, behaviors and understanding. Simply speaking, a company’s structure and design can be viewed as its body, and its culture as its soul. The definition of organizational culture is a shared set of shared values and norms that characterize a particular organization.”
Unfortunately, having a positive company culture in today’s business world doesn’t seem to be a concern for many organizations. If your business is one of them, here’s why you should reconsider:
Company Culture Identifies Your Organization
Having a strong company culture will make you stand out from your competitors. Additionally, it will define how your organization conducts business, as well as how it interacts with one another and with the outside world (including customers, employees, partners, suppliers, stakeholders, and even media).
“Culture guides discretionary behavior and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas, and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is of course most of the time.”
Source: Harvard Business Review
A Strong Company Culture Will Foster High Performance
Not surprisingly, organizations with a strong company culture outperform those with weaker cultures. A strong culture motivates employees and managers alike.
“A company culture that facilitates employee happiness means lower turnover and better company performance. Employees are loyal and companies perform better. It’s a win-win.”
Not sure what a great company culture entails? We’ve included four essential tips for creating one below:
Be Unique While Remaining True to Your Values
Don’t try to create a “One Size Fit’s All” culture that adapts to fit any personality. That will never happen and it could potentially create an awkward environment for everyone involved. Decide what’s right for YOUR business, then stick to it.
At Rain POS, for example, our culture is based on what we refer to as the ” Four H’s” :
- Be Happy
- Be Hardworking
- Be Honest
- Be Humble
These principles—based on what we felt would create a fun, comfortable, and productive environment—guide the way our employees and managers interact with one another and with our customers.
Leaders Should Be The Living Embodiment of Your Company Culture
Your company culture should apply to everyone, whether they’re upper-level managers or lower-level employees. In other words, there shouldn’t be any exceptions when it comes to adhering to the company culture you’ve instituted for your organization. Members of leadership should show others how to live the corporate culture each day they come to work, because when they’re not around…the culture they’ve exemplified should kick into gear and guide their employees in their absence.
Hire People Who Will Fit In With Your Company Culture
If your business is desperate for new employees, you may be tempted to hire people based solely on the awesomeness of their resumes or word-of-mouth recommendations. But ignoring signs of potential culture clashes pre-hire may lead to bigger problems later on, costing you training monies and causing employee interaction problems and/or human resource headaches.
Develop criteria for new hire compatibility and reinforce its importance to those involved with the hiring process. One tech journalist we read about is careful not to “hire jerks”. Some companies have rigorous hiring processes, while other organizations require that job candidates work with their employees for a short trial period to see how they interact with others.
Tony Hsieh (CEO of Zappos), a strong advocate of company culture, believes that the people you hire represent your company even outside of work. Perception of that workplace will change based on opinions of the person. If they’re nice, the company is viewed favorably. If they’re a jerk, the organization may be seen in a negative light. If the company is virtually unknown, but the person is helpful, the company will most likely be rated as helpful too. This example demonstrates why it’s so critical to hire people who share your company’s values.
Reward Those Who Live Your Company Culture
Sadly, creating—and sticking to—company cultures can be a lot like making New Years resolutions: they’re forgotten or abandoned two weeks later. Because a strong company culture is essential to your business success, you should reference it often and make a habit of publicly recognizing employees or teams who continually demonstrate what your culture is and what you strive to be.
Developing a company culture is a vital part of achieving business success. A strong set of organizational guidelines on company values, character, expectations, etc. will create a strong culture that fosters high performance, employee retention, and improved interaction. Company culture will not only define how your organization is viewed by others, but also how it conducts business, both within the company itself and in the outside world.