Company culture. It's almost like some mythical unicorn that companies use to justify their actions or recruit the hottest talent. But what does "company culture" really mean, and what are the components of company culture that actually effect change?
There's an old phrase that still holds much relevance today. "From fifty thousand feet" there's no difference between Darden restaurants, McDonald's, Panera Bread, IBM, Apple, Google, Microsoft, or even your company. Regardless of size or reputation, we all have three areas of opportunity:
OUR EXISTING CULTURE
Culture happens accidentally or it happens on purpose. There really isn't an in between. It is all about behavior and the creation of norms. We can define and track these behaviors as either red flag or green flag, and the organizations that do things right will use them as an opportunity to coach teammates, not police them.
Most companies will likely have some great cultural elements, but they also will probably have some negative ones. The important thing is to recognize the red flags and begin to shift them in the right direction. The first step is to define these behaviors you need to start doing, stop doing, and keep doing - on purpose and not by accident.
Strategy, or planning, fails more than 80 percent of the time unless something within the business structure shifts. Structure doesn't just mean moving a wall or adding a new piece of equipment. It is how we speak with each other, how we manage our behaviors, or how we conduct our meetings.
Strategic planning as an annual event is dead. That's right! Today, review and course correction is an ongoing process, or at least it should be. Explore behavioral norms and fiscal results. Celebrate what's working. Course correct what's not. Do so with data-based feedback instead of compliments or criticism. Speak the unspoken, and have the real meeting in the meeting, not afterwards at the bar.
The good news is the behavioral structure in your company is a whole lot cheaper to fix than a remodel or a new piece of equipment. Take a look at how you're running meetings, talking with each other, and making decisions based on clear vision versus the fear of making a mistake or being wrong. All the more reason to have an explicit set of values that you actually use - defined purpose and explicit vision.
How to Define Your Company Culture
The work to define company culture is simple, not easy. There is a road map you can follow that will help you define and implement excellence.
Culture just is. And conscious culture is very achievable. If you take time to define your culture, you'll get more than a brand promise, you'll create a brand experience.