Corporate culture has always been a relevant factor in every company. However, in the past decade, its importance has considerably evolved, together with how organisations function. It is today much easier than before for businesses to have partners or branches in other countries or even continents, and they soon understand that cultural differences can profoundly interfere with how remote teams collaborate or even with the image the company projects.

If you are from any western European country and you ever worked with teams in India, you will have at some point mistaken their work ethic as lack of proactivity. Many differences can be noticed even between countries that are much closer to each other, as this article from Harward Business Review I recently came across highlights.

Although cultural differences are often perceived as gaps that need filling, the reality is that there is just a distance that requires a bridge to be crossed, and the right company culture may very well be that bridge.

A strong corporate culture will affect several aspects across the organisation:

  • Identity: the culture that a company enforces will pretty much determine the identity of the company itself, and its value will be quite likely embraced by its employees, creating that coherence and consistency that will make the company a much better place.
  • Retention: Coherence and consistency will also ensure that your best people will want to stay, and stay for a long time. The right culture and the right people working in the company will create that virtuous circle that will attract even more talent in it – and it was recently pointed out how Millennials value the company culture above anything else.
  • Branding: is there a better way to promote the image of the company than showing to your clients a pleasant environment with a good chemistry among all the talented people working for it? Culture and brand are so intimately tied together that is hard to discern which comes first.
  • Productivity: when the morale is high, productivity and quality are naturally higher.

On the contrary, a high turnover and generalised unsatisfaction among your employees might depend on the lack of a proper company culture.

These are three simple questions that might help assess whether you should reconsider the culture that is being promoted across the organisation or you are on the right path:

  1. How and where is the company culture defined? (i.e. is it spelt out and in a format that can be accessed by everyone?)
  2. How well is the company culture understood?
  3. Is the company culture applied and longed for at all levels within the organisation?

Culture is not just randomly established in a company; the desired organisational culture can be planned. It is, of course, imperative that the executive team approve, if not promote, the conveyed mission, values and vision.

The success of your corporate culture then depends on some key components:

  • Practice effective communication to make sure that employees are clear on what is changing and what is expected of them at all time. Unclarity is quite often the main reason for the lack of commitment from your people.
  • Review the organisational structure so that it is aligned with the desired corporate culture. The wrong structure may not support the change that you are trying to promote.
  • Introduce a system of rewards and recognition to encourage the right behaviours. Celebrating and rewarding achievements will drive others to success.

There is no perfect recipe for a “correct” company culture, but it will require time, commitment, planning and proper execution. The bottom line is: it can be done.

Did you find this article interesting? Do you disagree with any idea exposed in the post? I would love to hear from you and read your experience. Please do not hesitate in adding comments or reaching me out on Facebook.

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