What Is Company Culture And Why Is It Important?

Posted in: Business

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What's your company like? Do you feel important? Is everyone from the CEO to the janitor on the same page regarding business goals, vision, norms, language, values, beliefs and habits?

In "corporate speak," when all of these elements come together, it creates something called corporate culture or company culture. But in simple terms, it's really just how you do things in your workplace.

No matter what your title is, you can influence your organization's culture. Change can come from anywhere; once it catches on, you'll not only start seeing amazing results, but you’ll also be benefited with work that is more fun and rewarding. As you consider your company's culture, look closely at these three key areas and why they're critical.

Genuine Service or Lip Service?

"What you do speaks so loudly that what you say, I cannot hear."

Have you ever seen a company that claims its personnel are its most important asset—right before laying off part of its workforce? Or an organization that brags about making customer satisfaction a priority—but that dismisses their complaints as unjustified whining?

These companies are sending mixed signals. It's easy to say what sounds good, but many find themselves falling short on their word because they don’t take action. The result? A company culture that doesn't value honesty. Employees who don't trust management. Remember Enron? It's a classic example of what NOT to do. Their leaders were sent to jail for fraud, leaving the company bankrupt. Guess what they displayed in their lobby? "Integrity, Communication, Respect, Excellence." Big oops.

On the other hand, take a look at Stryker. This global medical technology company prides itself on helping employees grow professionally and finding the perfect fit for each person within the organization. How do they do this? For starters, the long interview process allows hiring managers to figure out where you'll be happiest and most productive within the company. And once you're in, they encourage growth through tuition reimbursement and plentiful opportunities for career development.

Stryker values its employees, and it shows through both words and actions. There's no confusion about what the organization stands for—only clarity.

A company that backs up its words with actions creates an atmosphere of integrity, value, and trustworthiness. These, in turn, create an environment that encourages teamwork and a sense of loyalty. And how does a company demonstrate integrity? By having employees who are walking, talking examples of integrity. It all starts with you.

Attitudes Reveal All

The type of attitude that permeates an organization also has a tremendous impact on company culture. What mindset do the employees have? How about managers? Executives? Or even the janitors?

A "can-do" attitude of confidence, encouragement, and problem-solving builds trust and reliance on team members. When this happens and aligns everyone on the same wavelength, you can harness the power of synergy: Everyone working together creates a much greater result than what you'd expect from adding up those efforts. It's a multiplying effect, and it affects everything—productivity, efficiency, resourcefulness, and so on. This creates an upward spiral of positivity. Pervasive good attitudes lead to better results, which further boosts attitudes and confidence, which paves the way for even more achievements… you get the idea.

Unfortunately, synergy applies to negative attitudes, too, such as feeling like a failure, arrogance, pride, or insecurity. Some people think they can hide those harmful feelings, but they don't realize that attitude affects everything you do. Your attitude shows in your words, thoughts, and actions. It shows in your body language and how you interact with co-workers and clients. If the leadership of an organization fails to wipe out negative attitudes, they risk alienating both employees and customers. The focus becomes "What's in it for me?" rather than "How can we win as a team?"

LinkedIn has built its entire business on having the right attitude. Most people know it as a social network for professionals, but really, it's about helping people transform their careers through passion and purpose—caring about each person as a unique individual. An attitude of lifting people up and wanting the best for them. That's the goal. And it's the same goal for both members and employees. Does it work? Well, one of its software engineers described how well it takes care of employees, offering opportunities for professional growth, inspiration, and even light-hearted activities to maintain a healthy balance between work, fitness, and humor. This investment has paid rich dividends; people are excited about going to work at LinkedIn, and they love the strong sense of collaboration.

So lift that chin. Sit up straight. Believe in yourself—and your team. Attitudes are contagious, so make sure yours is something that others want!

Work Styles: A Symphony of Idiosyncrasies

Every workplace has a mix of four basic working styles. It's up to the company's leadership to leverage the strengths of each style to form a cohesive, purpose-driven team. Of course, this means that every style is valuable and necessary; too much emphasis on any one style can result in the perception that people are rewarded based on politics or favoritism, not results. Politics and favoritism are highly biased, but results are an impartial judge.

So what are these work styles?

1. Doing – These folks love action. Their motto is "Ready, Fire, Aim." They're intense, and their efforts are often detailed and focused. Sometimes, though, they become so focused that they forget to keep others in the loop. Or, they may underestimate the need for planning.

2. Leading – Natural leaders inspire others to share their vision. Leaders point the way and remind people what they're shooting for. This is great for keeping everyone on track, but leaders may sometimes become detached from everyone else; they're so busy looking ahead that they forget to listen to the people following them.

3. Loving – These are the relationship-builders and peace-makers. They're sensitive and empathetic, and they know what's going on with everyone on the team. Without these guys, a room full of Doers would devolve into all-out war. Lovers are wonderful at keeping everyone included and feeling valued, but they often fall short at details and follow through.

4. Learning – These individuals drool with excitement when faced with a good challenge. They love researching, learning, and tearing apart a problem. They're awesome strategists, and they're disciplined with their work. If they're not careful, though, all that planning and analyzing could lead nowhere, unless they stay connected to team members who are more inclined to action. Learners also risk succumbing to "analysis paralysis"—putting so much emphasis on the research and thinking that they're afraid to make a choice or take action.

Every team needs all four work styles to get the best results quickly. Did you notice that the different styles balance each other out? For instance, Doers put the Learners' findings into action. Leaders make sure that everyone is headed in the same direction, while Lovers make everyone feel like a vital part of the group. Does your team have all four work styles? Think about each member's preferred method of operation; try to organize your team and assignments to take advantage of each person's strengths.

Netflix is a great example of a company who values a mix of important work styles, rather than having too much of one expertise. They do this by thinking of their culture as a “team,” not a family. Viewing their company employees as a pro sports team allows them to hire, develop and cut smartly, that way they can ensure that they have stars in every position.

Bottomline

What is company culture? Take values, actions, attitudes, and work styles. Toss them into a blender and hit "Start." If you forget something, like the lid, then you'll have messy splatters that don't do a thing—kind of like employees who are stuck in a mediocre company culture that doesn't value them or their contributions. But if you have the right ingredients in the right proportions—valuing people, aligning visions with actions, positive beliefs, and balanced work habits, you'll have excellent results.

If you’re looking for a company that truly values strong culture, employee satisfaction and getting sh*t done check out Hello Innovation’s job openings today!

2 comments

  • Keesa Johnson Muhammad
    October 17, 2014

    great article!

  • Davaughnu
    June 26, 2015

    Thank you for writing this article. I think a lot of us confuse company culture with parties, events, and what we can get from the company versus what everyone can contribute individually and holistically.

    Best regards

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