Your Company Does Have a Culture – Can you define it?

As the owner of your business, do you realize that your corporate culture is a reflection of you and your leadership?

The American Heritage Dictionary defines culture as: The predominating attitudes and behavior that characterize the functioning of a group or organization. Even if your company does not have a vision and mission statement, your company does have a culture, by default! The predominating attitudes and behaviors of you and your managers impact your employees, which impact your customers, which impact the public’s perception of your company, all of which ultimately impacts your bottom line.

Corporate culture impacts employees

Since the attitude and performance of your employees directly impacts the success of your business, I suggest that you seek truthful answers to the following questions:

  • Are your employees pleased with where they work or do they view working for your firm as drudgery?
  • Are your employees afraid to make a decision or to take a risk for fear of punitive consequences, or do they operate with a sense of empowerment?
  • Do your employees sense that their supervisor genuinely wants them to grow and succeed or do they feel used?

Employees impact customers

As consumers, we get a peek into a company’s culture very quickly. It can start with the first phone call – with how we are greeted. All of us can recall negative experiences, satisfactory experiences, and WOW experiences; each of which determines where we spend our dollar. Which type of experience does your corporate culture foster?

Customers determine how your company is perceived

Slick attempts at PR cannot offset the prevailing reality of your customer’s experiences. They ultimately vote with their feet, which impacts your bottom line.

What is your corporate culture goal?

As the business owner you can be proactive about the attitudes and behaviors that prevail in your company by distilling in writing the culture that you want to exist within your company. A written culture statement becomes the third leg of the VMC (Vision, Mission, Culture) three-legged stool upon which your company operates. A well formulated written culture statement provides the “Rules of the Game” for your team. It should provide freedom as well as boundaries. Just like a football field, your team has freedom to move about the entire field, but the moment they step on the sidelines they are “out of bounds”. Call this a loose/tight concept. A culture statement communicates what is acceptable and what is not. It provides values that guide attitude and behavior. It should provide freedom within boundaries – loose/tight.

Get the team involved

As the owner of your company think about the attitudes, values, and behaviours of the people you desire as employees. Your thoughtfully crafted culture statement will become a valuable tool for attracting those types of people to your company.

How does one begin crafting a culture statement?

Start by listing your three most important values as the leader of your company. Then assemble your core team (those who are committed to your vision) and have them list:

  • Their three most important values
  • What they perceive to be your customer’s three most important values in doing business with your company
  • The three most important values for which you and your team want your company to be known.

This does not mean that your culture statement should have 12 points. You might find that each has some values in common, or you might find that you want more than 12 points to adequately define the loose/tight culture that you desire. ActionCOACH has 14 Points of Culture:

  1. Commitment
  2. Ownership
  3. Integrity
  4. Excellence
  5. Communication
  6. Success
  7. Education
  8. Teamwork
  9. Balance
  10. Fun
  11. Systems
  12. Consistency
  13. Gratitude
  14. Abundance

Each of these points is explained in detail in the Action 14 Points of Culture, removing ambiguity.

When thinking about the values you desire in your business, answer the following:

  • What personal characteristics are important for fulfilling our mission?
  • On what should we focus in order to be our best?
  • What qualities do we desire in those whom we hire?
  • What character traits conflict with fulfilling our mission?

To be effective, just as in the case of the vision and mission statements, the culture statement must be consistently well communicated throughout the organization. Everyone must have the power to hold others accountable with no hierarchical constraints. As the owner of your business, you have the power and the responsibility to overtly influence the attitudinal and behavioral environment experienced by your employees and customers!

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