June 14, 2017

How to Create and Define Corporate Culture

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How Create and Define a Great Corporate Culture

Defining Corporate Culture

Corporate culture comprises some of the hardest to define aspects of your business: vision, values, philosophies, leadership, language, norms, beliefs, habits, and more. Because defining corporate culture is so challenging, though, many business owners overlook it altogether. Corporate culture exists, however, whether a company’s leadership actively takes a part in creating it or not. Business leaders who do not help shape their organization’s corporate culture run the risk of letting their businesses lose control of such an important facet.

Why is Creating Corporate Culture Important?

Creating a vibrant, easy-to-understand corporate culture can help organizations attract and keep top talent. It is critical to employee engagement and retention, and it can have an impact their happiness and satisfaction in the workplace. Creating a thriving corporate culture can also affect performance by instilling values relating to work ethic or by the way it shapes management styles. Culture can also influence the way your company is viewed by its competitors and industry.

How to Create Corporate Culture

It’s All About Authenticity: Defining corporate culture is valuable, but the definition must fit your unique company and its values. Don’t base your idea of culture on what competitors are doing, and don’t try to force your company culture to fit within a narrow definition based solely on what you’d like the company to be. Instead, take an honest assessment of your existing corporate culture, and define specific adjustments you’d like to make over time.

Corporate culture is something that permeates every aspect of a business. Share on X

Corporate culture is something that permeates every aspect of a business, and changing it means changing employees’ feelings about the business, their understanding of what is expected of them, and a shared sense of the things that matter most to the business. Simply slapping a new label on your corporate culture won’t do much to change those deeply ingrained ideas. Shifting the perception of what your business stands for will take plenty of time, planning, cooperation, communication, and demonstrating that the company’s spoken values are much more than mere words.

Clarify Purpose: Start simply by defining your organization’s purpose. Then, ensure all employees and stakeholders understand that purpose, have bought into it, and are united toward fulfilling it. A clear definition of your corporate culture is pertinent to how effective it is.

Make Culture Part of Your Communications: Build a shared cultural vocabulary by reinforcing company purpose, vision, and values in all weekly and daily communications. Creating corporate culture means keeping it in mind when you set goals, announce achievements, plan events, and celebrate successes. Take advantage of company meetings as opportunities to reiterate core philosophies and unite the team. Weave culture into the visual design and layout of your workspace, as well. Prove your company’s stated values are more than just lip-service. For example, make sure your “green” business offers employees access to plenty of recycling bins, and avoid filling your business that touts “creativity and outside-the-box thinking,” with small cubicles, which literally box employees in.

Lead by Example: Call on your executive team to help define corporate culture. Other members of the organization will look to what the executive team does, not just to what they say, to determine their cultural reality. Setting the right example is critical when it comes to culture, so hold meetings to ensure your highest-ranking leaders are on board and fully committed to doing their parts.

Hire with Culture in Mind: Maintaining a specific corporate culture requires hiring not just quality people, but the right people. Communicate your corporate culture clearly during the interview process, just as you would other company goals, and make sure it fits with prospective employees’ own values and work style.

Grow Your Culture as You Grow Your Organization: When companies grow, culture becomes vulnerable because new employees bring with them new ideas, ingrained values, and past experiences. Set clear guidelines and provide reminders of cultural priorities to help maintain control of company culture during growth periods.

Get Everyone on Board: Make team members accountable for living up to the company’s standards and representing its values. Accepting shared responsibility for creating company culture gives employees a sense of ownership and purpose. Set clear expectations for employee behavior, and encourage managers to label and confront actions that violate company values. Make culture part of performance reviews , and address culture when measuring company progress as well.

Shape the Culture Around Your People, Not the Other Way Around: As company priorities and processes naturally evolve over time, the way you define your corporate culture may no longer fit. If your company’s value statements focus on the importance of in-person, face-to-face meetings, but 80% of your new employees now telecommute, it may be time to rethink whether those values still make sense. Don’t try to force your people conform to a cultural definition that is no longer relevant. Instead, adjust your concept of corporate culture to fit your people and what’s important to them.

Corporate cultures are born with companies. They have lives of their own. Share on X

Corporate cultures are born with companies. They have lives of their own that go on whether business leaders intervene to help shape them or not. Defining and guiding corporate culture is about much more than words. It requires that companies and their leadership commit to a set of values and agree to a clear set of actions to weave those values throughout all of the core business functions. A thriving corporate culture is like a company’s soul: it is present in the way it does business, what it says about itself, who it hires, who it promotes, what it delivers to clients, and so much more. Business owners who understand the importance of corporate culture, can build happier, more engaged, better performing, and united work forces driven by people who understand their shared purpose.

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