Company Culture

In dealing with many SME’s on a day to day, week to week basis, I find common issues pop up continuously. The hot topic exciting discussion these days (hopefully once companies have their more fundamental HR related compliance processes sorted) is; So, how do we get the company culture we want?

I set myself a challenge to come up with an anagram that may help define some of the key factors making up a company culture, ….. hope it helps make things easier to remember.

  • Your company culture determines your company Communication style, tone, look, feel, frequency and content, that is; what is talked about, how often its discussed and how it’s talked about. Just as much cultural insight can also be garnered from what is
  • NOT talked about as well.
  • Ideally your company culture will Underpin how key stakeholders behave whilst there, how they treat you and each other and how they interact with your company, remember these can be both internal staff plus external client, supplier and partner stakeholders.
  • Company culture both creates and influences the Leading (future looking) goals and measures of success as much as it evolves from the Lagging (already past) goals and measures of success (or failure). Your goals and strategies tell much about what is important to the company and what staff need to pay attention to.
  • Company culture will show the Truths about your company values. It portrays the company’s picture of how it sees itself and what people can rely on it for, or not!
  • A great company culture can be a Unique emotional selling point for the company, making sure it stands out and appeals to both staff and clients. Is this a company I want to work for or deal with or not?
  • Your company culture is generally Real. It is hard to hide the real culture vs the desired culture for long if they are not aligned. This means it is important that what people hear that they can expect is what they actually see in reality. Congruence builds trust, this is a key factor in the success of a growing, happy & healthy company.
  • Lastly, wouldn’t you want your culture to be Engaging and energising so as to keep staff interested in continuing to contribute genuine effort and contribution whilst at work, be proud to say they belong to your company and be attractive to talented staff as a prospective employer?

As you will have gathered by now, Company culture is a matrix of feelings, thoughts, behaviours, traditions, experiences and messages that are both consciously and unconsciously projected which all combine to determine how a staff member or client experience their interactions with the company, right from the moment they first hear of you. Ideally it is supported by your brand, the public bits that all stakeholders see first.

Culture starts by accident rather than by design, it is normally in alignment with the values and skills of the company founder, then it comes under the spotlight as the company grows.

So, back to the question I often get asked by my clients: OK, so how do we get the company culture we want? How can we change what we have?

I’ve run out of space, so put on your thinking caps in the meantime: Decide what attributes you’d like your culture to have – Do you want to be innovative (Bankwest) or stick with the tried & true (ANZ). Do you want to be friendly and casual (Jetstar) or formal and more structured (Qantas)? Think about what is “normal and expected” for your industry, do you want to fit or break that mould? Jot down 12 or so key words that you’d like people to use when describing your company culture.

Thanks for reading and we’ll talk soon.

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