What is Your Company’s Culture? - 2 important ways to create or change a corporate culture
Culture refers to the collective characteristics, beliefs, norms, and interactions of a group of people and defines what is considered acceptable and unacceptable behavior within the group. Culture can be as broad as a country or as narrow as a company. Whether you specifically define it or not, every company has a culture of its own. The company culture is a collective set beliefs and norms that help guide the behavior of the group.
Company culture includes such elements as:
- Company values (such as teamwork, ethics, customer service, etc…)
- The Goal or Vision of the company (to be the leader in your industry)
- Language or Communication (how we talk to each other)
- Behavior (possibly a humorous or more serious environment)
Company culture will emerge in every company, with or without planning. Without planning, without care and cultivation, company culture can turn negative, like weeds in a garden. With forethought, planning and continued care, company culture can establish the belief system and norms that everyone in the company can adhere to while working to achieve the company’s mission and goals.
Why does a company need a clearly defined culture?
Think of employees, customers and vendor relationships, think of employee turnover and related cost, all of these items could be affected by a negative company culture…
Can you influence, guide and change a negative company culture? YES you can! The best part is you probably don’t have to start from “scratch”. Most likely there are many aspects of your company culture that you like and want to retain. There are two ways I believe you can change your company culture.
#1 Seek input and feedback from your employees.
You can do this informally or you could actually design a survey that seeks comment about the following areas:
- Growth Opportunities
- Work/Life Balance
- Quality of Work/Customer Service/Performance
- Respect for Managers/Employees
- Personal Expression
#2 Identify those things in your organization that impact your culture.
For example, technology has had a profound affect how people interact with one another. Face-to-face contact with colleagues and clients has largely been replaced by texts, emails, video conferencing and other means of communication. One could argue whether the expedience of these forms of communication has negatively impacted the benefits of personal interaction, collaboration, team building and general sense of community within an organization.
Establishing and maintaining company culture starts with the job interview. While some candidates will embrace and immerse themselves in the company culture, others will be more interested in a paycheck and what the job has to offer them. Because culture establishes the accepted norms and beliefs of a group, it is essential that job candidates be introduced to the culture from the start.
A good example of what I do in every interview as the owner of Back Office Remedies is tell the candidates “I am not here to say whether you are hired or not I am just here to see if you fit our family”.
Culture at Back Office Remedies
If you want an idea of our company culture, think HUMOR. From the hiring process to the everyday work environment, laughter is important. Workloads are stressful enough. We feel that when employees are happy and laughing they work better and customers tend to feel better taken care of. Laughter allows our employees to enjoy a better team environment. Before a team member leaves for the day, they always ask co-workers if they need any help. This behavior is practiced by the owner and installed upon employees at every level.
Office decoration competition in 2015. The winner was the receptionist who covered the entire front desk with sparkles and Christmas ornaments!
Employees that are laughing feel more comfortable and confident and are better able deal with issues and other people, including supervisors. A culture that incorporates light-hearted humor allows workers to feel more like family than just a staff member. The feeling of family allows our team to know we care about each and every one of them. We promote this by having regular team building activities where everyone is invited to attend and enjoy events outside of the workplace. Examples include bowling, laser tag, obstacle course runs, fun runs, etc. Based on the office conversations and laughter that takes place after such events, our workers seem to truly enjoy such get togethers.
Our CEO, Jeff’s 50th birthday party.
Promote personal and professional growth
We also promote personal and professional growth to all of our workers. One of my favorite phrases is: “I don’t cap your ceiling…you do”. This is my way of telling everyone, the only thing that stands in the way of your growth and advancement are the limitations you place on yourself.
I tell the staff if they have the desire and aptitude to take over a task or project and get it off of my desk, then they are welcome to do so. I just remind them that once they take it, they can’t bring it back! Of course, I am there to assist and guide them but they have to take the initiative. It is that initiative that tells me a great deal about one’s desire and ambition to grow. It is equally important for the company to recognize and reward initiative, whether by publicly recognizing an employee’s achievements or through compensation or other means.
Like broth in the soup, company culture permeates every aspect of the company and how it tastes will either make or break your creation.
Updated on June 30, 2017 10:05