Does your company’s culture fuel success, or does it impede progress? Creating a winning organizational culture is as important as corporate strategy. Smart executives know that fostering the right culture can be a major competitive advantage.
What is company culture, anyway?
Corporate culture is the “personality” of the company. It is defined by the mission statement and governed by a company’s core values. Think of it as the root system of a great oak tree. What we see on the surface is a product of the health of the roots. Hidden beneath the surface, the root system delivers nourishment to all the branches, allowing them to flourish.
How a mission statement defines culture
A company’s mission statement is a declaration of its core purpose. It is the “why” behind business strategy. A good mission statement declares the company’s goals and conveys its ethics. In this way, it guides organizational culture. Make it simple so everyone in the company can understand the mission and align with it.
Core values and culture
The mission statement is governed throughout the organization by adhering to core values. These are your company’s principles and beliefs — things like honesty, respect, and dependability. Adherence to core values results in maximized productivity and minimized internal conflict. If someone does not embrace the company’s core values, they won’t be a good fit in the organization, even if they have great technical skills. The people you hire are your organization’s ambassadors of culture. Hiring someone who can do the job, but does not fit the culture, is a recipe for disaster.
Sometimes a company’s culture needs to change. Habits may need to be broken and staffing changes may need to be made to create a culture which actively conveys your organization’s core values. Owners and managers must lead this cultural evolution, but all employees — down to entry level positions — are responsible for keeping the culture. Everyone must take ownership and help lead the change among their peers. Managers must “walk the talk” as well as employees.
Sustaining the culture
Every action within the company — each decision from the top down — influences corporate culture. In order to sustain the desired culture, every person within the organization must be held accountable. When there is an organizational failure, conduct a root cause analysis to see if values were ignored. Look to the culture to help determine what action should be taken to remedy the situation. It’s good to remember culture change is a journey, and maintaining momentum requires consistent reminders of the organization’s vision and values. As accountability grows, a culture of united purpose will blossom.
Culture leads to competitive advantage
Organizational culture is deeper than what a company does; it is the “why” beneath those actions. A strong company culture shapes behavior throughout the entire organization. It aligns people in pursuit of common goals and motivates them to do the right thing rather than the easy thing. A company with a cohesive culture will be better equipped to execute strategy. And that’s a competitive advantage.