What is Corporate Culture?

Corporate culture is something that relates to an organization’s working environment and can be defined as combination of shared values, traditions, culture, vision, customers, philosophy, policies and principles of an organization. All together they create the professional atmosphere, which affects the behavior and performance of the entire organization. With great corporate culture people are excited to go to work, they are proud of themselves and their company and the clients are completely satisfied with the products and services being provided.

Corporate culture can be seen from three perspectives:

For the employer, it is simply the implementation of effective systems and processes that will allow great corporate culture to develop (see my articles on transparency, motivation and buy-in). Through words and actions employers must make sure their people know they are highly valued and their input and opinions are welcome and encouraged. To insure a positive work environment, a smart employer hires for attitude first and aptitude second, not the other way around. It is much easier to teach someone the technical or hard skills of the job than it is to teach someone the soft skills of a positive mindset, leadership, strategic thinking and team building. An organization with a positive culture is open to input, ideas and feedback from all levels throughout the organization.

To the employee, corporate culture is determined not just by the working environment, salary and benefits, but also current stress levels, the ability to provide input, a sense of control over career growth and direction, a feeling of self-growth and accessibility to management. When employees see their organization as welcoming and supportive, they respond with positive attitudes and commitment to the organization and its culture.

To the customer, dealing with an organization that has a strong corporate culture has many advantages, both tangible and intangible. Customers want to deal with an organization that does the right thing, at the right price and at the right time. When that is not possible, customers want an organization that will proactively reach out to communicate the issues and the solutions. They also want to feel confident in the quality of product or service offered, as well as, the people within the organization. Lastly and most importantly, customers want to feel valued and appreciated.

Need for Corporate Culture Change

When an organization plans to develop a new product, new service or create a shift in behavior, it is a great time to examine and refine corporate culture. In order for the changes to be successful, leaders must work across all levels of the entire organization. Management must clarify and clearly express the reasons for change, begin to drive decisions by building consensus, develop open communication and secure commitment from everyone. When this approach is used, organizations find there is much less stress and the desired plans or changes become easier to handle and much quicker to implement.

How to Create Corporate Change

When changing corporate culture, there are primarily two types of personalities that significantly impact the implementation of the change. The first type are the people who are supple; they see this change as a new opportunity and take it with enthusiasm, excitement and full energy. The second type are the people who are rigid; they are resistant to any type of change, are frustrated by it and see it as a form of defeat. This is why it is vital for leaders to communicate clearly and stand strongly behind the mission and its objective and implement the change with a positive “we can do it” attitude. Rely on those energized by the changes and work together towards a complete buy-in by everyone. Offer training and support as needed and anyone unable to embrace the changes, ultimately needs to be replaced in order to secure the growth and success of the organization.

I have been building companies for over 30 years and know with certainty that when organizations are willing to constructively and optimistically work through these types of changes and embrace their corporate culture, they create a competitive advantage within their industry that makes them, second to none.