May 16, 2011

10 Things That Influence Your Company Culture? WHY Should You Care?

I doubt there are many executives who worry about ''company culture''. Do you?
Culture is considered a fuzzy word by some, and after all who cares about values and norms or people when we need (much more) profit?
Definition is not exciting either, is it?
Organizational culture has been defined as "specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization."
Why Care?
But this is why you (we) should (all) care - If culture is strong—people do things because they believe it is the right thing to do, even without extensive procedures and bureaucracy. You need much less convincing, supervising or (micro)managing.
With new competitors and leading-edge technologies emerging almost overnight last thing you need is a culture-based setbacks and resistance, which are becoming common.
Maybe you would like a more innovative, collaborative or customer-focused culture? Why? To help your business goals: survive, grow, be more efficient, out—smart competition, etc.
You thought of an awesome strategy? Good for you. Strategies now just need to be adopted and executed quickly.
Executives are generally aware of this as the culture is on the list of Top 10 concerns of C-level executives today.
Business initiatives, operations, strategy execution require change (and managing change), using all potential energy and power in the organization. Executing the best thought business strategies needs support from the top, but also a help from company culture and values.
Some Factors of Company Culture That Can Help Your Plans
This is where some of these factors in company culture can help:
· Loyalty
· Trust
· Information sharing
· Accountability
· Teamwork
· Acceptance of change
· External focus
· Organization design
· Process effectiveness
· Internal politics
· Participation in decision making.
Your job now is ''just'' to foster cultural characteristics that drive high performance, and to change those that stand in the way of success. It takes an effort and time.
According to MIT professors, culture is the most difficult organizational attribute to change, outlasting organizational products, services, founders and leadership and all other physical attributes of the organization.
I know there are all those other things on your mind, and here is just reminder what can influence the culture and help all your plans.
Top 10 Things That Influence Your Company Culture
1. Behaviors modeled by management (I was in a company where we were told to save even on printing paper, staples, etc. Cost saving was imperative, but all we could see were more expensive cars for top management. That reduced our efforts to save.)
2. What leaders pay attention to, measure and control
3. Performance and promotion systems (rewards)
4. Criteria for recruitment, selection and termination
5. Leaders’ reactions to critical incidents and crises that test the values of the company
6. The company’s formal and informal design and structure
7. Systems, policies and procedures that determine how work is done
8. Stories and legends about key people that are told throughout the enterprise
9. Company ceremonies (celebrations, awards, promotion, rites of passage)
10. Formal statements of philosophy, principles and values.
As you know ''you can not turn around your culture with one decision, or a speech.'' This is why you might want to go through the list with these practical things, and see what can help you the most and what you can use to use right now.
Have you ever been proud of any culture of any company you worked for, or have taken active part in creating/maintaining it? What did you do? How did you feel?How did it impact business? Or you would like to share a negative experience?

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  1. "If culture is strong—people do things because they believe it is the right thing to do, even without extensive procedures and bureaucracy. You need much less convincing, supervising or (micro)managing" ----------> This is so true.......people need to be committed to their work and should genuinely love their work, otherwise there is no point in working when it feels like working !!!!!!!!"

  2. Thank you Subhadeep, you are probably the lucky one, being a manager in a healthy (culture) company and loving your work, too.

  3. Subhadeep SenguptaMay 16, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    yes, I love the work, since I really like telecom and in telecom since 2002, when the mobile boom started in India.....:)

  4. Well done for you and for your colleagues. Thanks for stopping by, reading the post and sharing . Keep up the good work! Best regards to you and India.

  5. Dear Liliana, This is a great posting. Thanks for sharing. What comes to mind is a company I once worked for where, the value of a family friendly environment was instilled in and this shaped the company's policies, in turn helped employees in ensuring a better work-life balance-I'm forever grateful for that culture. A culture that I helped maintained would be the fairness that is continuously emphasized upon when dealing with business matters-particularly those of us who interacted with the external business stake holders-and my conscious is crystal clear as well in terms of adhering to that culture of fairness. Regards."

  6. Dear Grace, it is great to see your comment and you are always generous with sharing. I love examples and you provide one, just to reinforce how important culture really is. Hope it will help someone get a better, useful or ''crystal clear'' idea in his/her business. Best regards to you, too.

  7. The primary thing wrong with any "culture" is that the culture can not see themselves from outside the box. The only way to achieve being fair with ones self is to audit all functions, all personalities, finding out what all employees think without fear of getting in trouble for speaking up. Companies have to do it on an unbiased basis. To do this requires in your face comments by outside consultants/auditors. Even then, findings are subject to the false reconsiliatiopn of the audited. The real answer is if you are not on a north bound train with the culture, get off the train and find one that suits you - where ever it's headed.

  8. The 10 things list is interestingly focused toward the top of the company and leaders. While I agree with some of them like rewards, celebration and clear rules, it seems that we forget culture can also be forged by the people in the trenches who are not necessary leaders. For instance, friendly and open environments create a different type of culture, encouraging a different set of behaviors. In startups, such openness means doing the right thing for the company, filling the blanks and do whatever it takes for the business to run and get to the next level. It is not about clear rules for hiring, rewarding or answers to crisis, but creating a culture where everyone feels to be on the same boat and has to act (or react), not just leaders.

  9. Hi Richard, thanks for joining the discussion. What you mention is not something most of us look forward to - ''in your face comments by outside consultants/auditors.'' Sometimes it is the only way to find out what people think. And sometimes it is a good wake up call, to ''get on the train'' headed where you want your business to be - in the company of the best, fittest and richest, right? Anyone had to go through such experience?

  10. Hi Florence, thanks for your comment. Your observation is correct, this article was meant for leaders and managers. I was trying to make them think of all the way they can help create/influence the culture where everyone ''feels to be on the same boat'', or whatever other attribute they like, or want for their business.

    I would always prefer to be in, or own a company where ''everyone has to act or react'', too. I see it as a result of many decisions and actions of the leaders, top management - from the day one. I can not remember one initiative that got great results and quickly (in any organization) without support or involvement of leaders and top of the company.

    Yesterday a friend told me ''Companies ''make'' people and people make companies.'' English is not his mother tongue and maybe this can be better said, but I thought it was nice, and it sounds true to me. Some of the companies literally ''made me'' a professional I now am and ingrained certain values and set of behaviors in me.

  11. Nice article and to the point. Culture is the sum of all ideas and values that define a society or an organization in this case. You are bound to be influenced by it and of course it differs from place to place. It is important to be objective and keep an open mind but the rules are there for a reason and they have been tested over the course of time. So following them might be a good idea.

  12. Elias, thanks for your feedback. I was very much influenced by cultures in organizations where I worked, some I enjoyed and they made rules clear and more acceptable. Wherever I was not a good fit with a culture it was a relief to go, or even be ''let go'' as I wrote in
    Has anyone ever felt you don't appreciate or do not fit with a company culture?


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