I have been reading a lot lately about the importance of company culture and how it impacts the success of organizations. Success is subjective but most of us would agree that we want to live a happy and comfortable life. In business we expect that collaboration will be a part of our regular routine and that the people we collaborate with will have a direct impact on our success. With that understanding we need to make sure that we have an environment that is built on common values, where we work toward a common goal. This kind of environment directly impacts overall happiness, which in turn motivates us to do our best. Let’s face it, without an established culture, we would be less inspired, and let motivated to do meaningful work.
Company culture is challenging to define, and equally tricky to create deliberately. I look at it as the ‘personality’ of an organization. You are what you do every day. For an organization, that means how the organization gets things done.
How do you conduct your meetings? How stringent are you with being on time? What do you reward? What behaviour do you penalize?
Most importantly, how do you interact with one another, is it with an air of trust and respect or air of mistrust and skepticism?
I have been fortunate enough to have been working with a core group of professionals for over a dozen years now. Although we’ve had our ups and downs and our share of disagreements, at the core of our relationship is trust. We focus on putting the interest of the company first and celebrate success, not as individuals but as a team.
As a result of this trust, our meetings move fast; decisions are made quickly, we test new methods and processes on a dime. Most importantly, we are not afraid of failure. The fact is that in most companies, innovative ideas are resisted (that’s kind of what makes them groundbreaking in the first place) and fail more often than they succeed. In a culture of mistrust, there is less risk taken because it results in finger-pointing and admonition for trying something different in the first place. Not celebrating failure stifles innovation and promotes a status quo environment. And in an age of intense competition innovation is critical to survival for most companies. Therefore, so is the nurturing of a productive culture.
Don’t get me wrong, our corporate culture is far from perfect, and, so it every other company’s culture. Cultures, like our personality, are a work in progress, with many of us always trying to improve. What I can tell you for sure as a leader, manager, executive in your organization, protect the positive elements of your company culture with a passion. The core of that is building trust. Here are a few things I’ve seen in companies over the years that erode trust.
- Micro-management: smothering employees by looking over their shoulders and asking for piles of reports to show what they are doing minute-to-minute.
- Promoting unhealthy competition: Focusing on individual achievement far more than group achievement. Allowing overly competitive individuals to intimidate others and brag about their accomplishments as if the company would fall apart without them.
- Allowing toxic employees to dominate the workplace: poisonous employees and bullies must be dealt with by leadership swiftly, they can destroy the fabric of your organization and cause good people to leave.
With the pace of business today, it’s easy for us to forget what the most critical asset of any company is, people. When employees enjoy coming to work, like the people they work with and feel safe in their environment, it reflects in what they do, the quality of their work and their commitment to their customers. Focusing on company culture and its importance is truly a win-win situation.