I’ve seen company culture described a lot of different ways. Sadly, when people attempt to describe their company’s culture you’ll hear things like, “We wear suits and ties most days, but Fridays are pretty casual,” or “Everyone that works here is really friendly and the break room is always stocked with snacks,” or “Overall, the team is fairly relaxed and there isn’t a lot of micro-management…”
Like I said. Sad. Because frankly knowing the dress code and the assortment of chips available tells us little to nothing about the company’s culture. Sure, benefits and perks may provide insight into how a company treats and values its employees, but it is not the sole indicator of company culture.
What is Company Culture?
Culture is defined by shared standards and values, as well as the mindset or attitudes of those that share them. A clearly defined and well-communicated company culture can provide direction, influence decision-making, and even impact team members’ actions and performance on a day-to-day basis.
Having a clearly defined company culture provides consistency for your organization. It sets a foundation of expectations among your organization or team. Now, that’s not to say that standards or values are carved into stone. In fact, it’s healthy to re-evaluate company culture on a routine basis, whether at the annual company retreat or quarterly board meeting, to identify opportunities for improvement.
Defining Company Culture
Never define culture in a silo. Standards and values that are important to you may not be central to the rest of your team. Involve your leadership team when asking and answering questions to determine your company culture, as it can have an impact for years to come. Using tools such as 15Five and CultureIQ can enable others to contribute their opinions around the company’s existing culture as well as help you identify areas for improvement on a routine basis.
Culture’s Role in Success
Ultimately, company culture drives what is of importance to your organization and therefore plays a critical role in your team’s success. If everyone on your team is operating from the same foundation or playbook, you eliminate the likelihood that people will go rogue and follow their own rules. Because it guides your interactions internally, it inevitably impacts how you serve your prospects and clients.
For example, one of DemandLab’s values that is at the foundation of our company culture is Support and Collaboration. We practice this value internally by always being willing to help one another, being open to new ideas and ways of thinking, and providing an open outlet for knowledge transfer amongst the team and departments. Our supportive and collaborative culture also gives clients access to the expertise of multiple team members because we do not work within silos. By involving our clients in the work being done and decisions made along the way, we are fostering a true, collaborative partnership.
Emphasizing Company Culture
Communicating company culture during the onboarding process for both new hires and newly formed teams is an important step that is easy to overlook in the rush to get someone up to speed. But it is essential to set the foundation and expectations from the onset so that everyone is on the same page. Don’t hesitate to inform your clients of your culture as well – it should never be something you are ashamed of, so why not shout it from the rooftop! Using outbound channels such as social media or your website, you can communicate your company culture in a way that allows prospects, as well as prospective hires, a glimpse into your world.
Whether sharing your company culture for the first time or simply reinforcing it, taking the time to do so allows the opportunity to set expectations, ensure alignment of goals, and establish a standard for values and actions moving forward.
With the significant role that company culture plays in your organization, it only makes sense to invest in it! Create documentation (like a company handbook), literature, policies and procedures, and onboarding presentations that communicate your organization’s company culture clearly and effectively. Provide your team with easy access to these documents; you never know when someone might need a refresher.
Your company culture is a powerful force that can motivate and inspire employees, improve team coordination, and enhance the customer experience. But to see those results, you need to be able to articulate that culture at a deeper level than “friendly people and great snacks.” Take the time to define, nurture, and communicate the unique culture that your company supports; it will support your company’s success.
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