What is it that sets apart the best and most successful companies from the competition? Is it their ability to create profit, their innovations, quality of customer service or employee satisfaction? Well, the truth is all of these aspects matter, but there is one thing that influences them all – and that’s company culture. If you think I’m exaggerating here, take the first three companies from any list and see what their stand on corporate culture is.
What is, in fact, company culture?
You have probably heard of IBM’s legendary dress codes from the past when scientists were still theorising about the importance of corporate culture. The strict dressing rules have become a sort of an “IBM thing” and this subject still attracts people’s attention. However, there’s a lot more to culture than the dress codes of a company. You can’t just implement casual Fridays and think you have created corporate culture.
A culture covers all things related to the identity of the organisation. This includes values, beliefs, behaviors, and artifacts that determine how the company works and adapts to its surroundings. Every day companies communicate with their internal and external audiences creating artifacts that point to their culture.
For example, you can tell a lot about a certain company culture by the language people use. This includes the way they use technical terms, make jokes, and use slang and metaphors. You can analyze the culture through documents the company issues internally or externally, and through the formal or informal stories that the leadership and employees share.
The physical organisation of the working space says a lot about the culture in an organisation, too. If the offices are big, open spaces where people can easily communicate and collaborate, you can say that the company encourages teamwork. Another important thing that’s a core piece of company culture is all the processes of hiring and firing employees. This also includes the reasons and ways in which employees get rewarded.
Why is company culture now more important than ever?
Creating and maintaining company culture has been important ever since people started gathering and joining their efforts in a shared cause, whether they were aware of it or not. But today, a strong and effective culture must be a conscious decision for any organisation that wants to stand out in this crowded business world.
Today’s organisations struggle with two big changes – a new generation of employees and rapid restructuring of businesses. These two fundamental changes bring challenges that companies need to overcome in order to survive and keep their reputations. But these changes have their impact on individuals, too. This is why talent acquisition becomes harder over time. The new situation inevitably brings an increased need for setting a strong and effective corporate culture.
Employees from the new generation come with their own information, needs, expectations, and beliefs which are very different from the ones that are commonplace in older generations. They expect to be well informed about the organisation they work for and they want to take part in the decision making process.
Today’s employees want to know how management thinks. They also want a chance to share their thoughts, knowing their opinions will be heard and taken into consideration. In other words, today’s employees need to feel that they play a valuable role in the future of their company.
The second change refers to the increased number of mergers, restructuring, and re-branding of companies. This change is hard for the employees because it brings along obstacles and interference in their work. What is more important, it brings obstacles in their relations with the colleagues and the company itself. This uncertainty also makes it hard for companies to put their focus on a long-term commitment to their employees.
Having all this in mind, today’s companies are trying hard to build and maintain an identity which will set them aside from the competition. This way, they can bring people closer to them, so they can easily attract and retain the most valuable talent in their industry.
How can strong company culture take your business to another level?
The greatest asset of any company is the set of people that work together toward accomplishing its corporate goals. This brings up the question – how do you make sure your employees are happy and motivated to give their best in every single task? The answer is easy, but not that simple to realise – establish a strong and effective company culture!
Psychology states that people create (self-)concepts about themselves based on their membership in various social groups. By establishing a corporate culture, you will help your employees develop a strong shared identity. This will create a feeling of “us”, joining efforts to please “ours” (the customers) or win against “them” (the competition).
This strong feeling of shared identity incites building trust in the team and thus increases motivation. It also improves the image that the outside world associates with your organisation. Take Zappos, Twitter, Google, and Facebook as examples. Their employees can’t stop sharing the good word about the way they feel at work. This constantly improves these companies’ reputation and makes said companies some of the most desirable employers, attracting the best talent.
A company culture acts as a type of interpretation of the organisation that helps employees anticipate the behaviors which will be expected from them. It’s a kind of informal controlling mechanism which approves or forbids certain behaviors. This will help you in the process of expanding your team since yours current employees will help guide your newer employees toward the latest goals and practices. Needless to say, it will let you spend your time on more crucial management tasks.
A strong culture also generates dedication to the values of the company or the management. Feeling that they spend their time at work for something they believe in, employees will have more energy and fun while completing their tasks. This is why productivity and profit are closely related to an effective company culture.
How to develop strong company culture
To be honest, there is no magic recipe you can apply in order to have a great corporate culture. The culture largely depends on the history, goals, and values of the company. However, there are some things you should keep in mind while shaping your own, unique culture.
- Establish strong and clear corporate values and goals. If you are not sure where you are leading the organisation, your employees will never know where they are following you. When you have a clear vision about the future, you will easily change and adapt the culture as your company grows.
- Encourage autonomy and entrepreneurship. When selecting an employer, professional development is more important to new employees than financial rewards. Give the freedom to your team to take action and do what they know best.
- Create a feeling of shared property. If you manage to make your employees regard your company as their own, you’ll experience great benefits. Include your employees in the decision making process. They will be motivated to give their best to accomplish a goal they feel as their own. It will result in greater productivity and better customer service.
- Pick employees that fit your company culture. Remember this because it is more important than talent. It doesn’t mean that you need to hire people with similar characteristics, but make sure everyone in your team shares the core values of your company culture.
- Make it fun! Make sure your employees feel at home. Promote a healthy and fun lifestyle, and provide employees with the opportunity to experience that lifestyle at their workplace.
These things worked for us at Inspired Techs. As the company was born out of a vision to redefine IT, we have inspiration and proactivity at the core of our company culture. We are not a “normal” IT company. We want to be that special partner our clients have, helping them in accomplishing their business goals.
There’s nothing inspirational in the traditional break/fix model. Our team is dedicated to making every one of your systems work flawlessly with minimal interruption. This is how we came up with our managed solutions. We believe that this proactive philosophy sets us apart from the competition and allows us to create an outstanding end result for our clients.