Company culture is the shared values, beliefs and behaviours of the company’s employees. It is a powerful force in any organisation and guides individual decisions and actions subconsciously.
As a result, this culture within an organisation can have a strong effect on a company’s well-being and success.
How to assess the company culture
There are many ways to assess your company culture. The easiest is to look around for common behaviours and visible symbols. How do the employees act; what do they do? Listen to colleagues, suppliers and customers. Pay attention to what is written about your company, in print and online. All these things will give you clues as to what your company’s culture really is.
Changes in company culture
Company cultures evolve and change over time for a number of reasons, for example:
- Each new employee brings his/her own values and practices to the group
- Company culture will change as the company matures from a start-up to a more established company
- Changes in the environment in which the company operates (the laws, regulations, business climate, etc.) result in changes in company culture.
These changes may be positive or negative, intended or unintended, major or minor. What is important is for management to be aware of the changes.
Desired company culture
Different companies in different industries will have different cultures − no one corporate culture type is better than another. The management of your company can decide what kind of culture will work best for the organisation in its anticipated future state. They will review the mission, goals and values of the company and make sure the company culture is in line with its objectives.
Here are some characteristics of company cultures in successful businesses:
- Mission clarity
- Employee commitment
- Fully empowered employees
- High integrity workplace
- Strong trust relationships
- Highly effective leadership
- Effective systems and processes
- Performance-based compensation and reward programmes
- Effective communication
- Commitment to learning and skills development
- Emphasis on recruiting and retaining outstanding employees
- High degree of adaptability
- High accountability standards
- Demonstrated support for innovation.
Alignment with strategic goals
Company culture can make or break a company. Corporate culture creates a common ground for team work and reduces uncertainty by offering a framework for interpreting events and issues.
When the following steps are taken by management, they will help to ensure that your company culture is aligned with its strategic goals:
- Develop a specific action plan that can support the good things in the current culture and correct the unaligned areas
- Brainstorm improvements in formal policies and daily practices
- Develop models of the desired actions and behaviours
- Communicate the new culture to all employees.
Companies with an adaptive culture that is aligned to their business goals usually out-perform their competitors.