How does culture drive success in business?
The Culture of a business can impact business success by the very nature of the way everyone in the organisation behaves and the values they portray. Culture means different things in different contexts but is essentially, the way a group of people behave. If everyone in the business is not striving for the same outcomes and demonstrating the core values of the organisation things can swiftly go off the rails.
Furthermore, I have read and contributed to some interesting discussions and debates on LinkedIn about organisation culture. Likewise, I have read some terrific articles about Peter Drucker’s quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. It seems many people get confused about what a business culture means.
Therefore, what do we mean by the Culture of an organisation or business?
To begin with, Culture is not one thing! It is many things and it is measurable. Furthermore, Gallup Inc. are experts in the field of analysing and quantifying things by making them measurable. For instance, staff engagement is one of the core components of understanding an organisations culture and is a great benchmark to understanding it from an analytical point of view but is only one of the many components and is covered by Gallup in this article.
To summarise, here is my list of what Culture means in a business:
- A business purpose or mission is clear, understood by all and documented
- Values held by the leaders of the business can be observed by the way they and the rest of their employees behave
- The environment, that is, what the building design, furniture and fittings are a good fit to the type of work being conducted.
- What is measured and managed such as team work and individual performance
- How people are rewarded and recognised
- Care programs for employees as well as social events and the feeling of being valued by the organisation; which is part of staff engagement
- The way the business responds to current trends in their industry
- How the business adapts to change, this is sited in the New York Times as being an issue that has hampered them in the Digital era
- Sustainability of the organisation which is related to adaptability and response to industry changes as sited in Successful_Habits_of Visionary_Companies by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras
Moreover, these are just some and by no means all, of the components, I see as being important to understanding and defining what is the culture of a business or organisation.
Furthermore, maintaining the right business culture is not a set and forget exercise:
An organisation needs to maintain their culture, be agile enough to respond to change when it is required and to constantly monitor all the components to ‘check in’ that it’s all still on track.
Regular maintenance of it requires focus and intention. Subsequently, the way people are managed, recognised, rewarded and disciplined all form part of maintaining the right business culture.
As an example, creating and maintaining the right Business Culture has been a big key to the success of many household names in business today:
Such businesses as, Apple, Google, Atlassian, Twitter, Facebook and Adobe are just a few that come to mind where the culture is enviable. Consequently, young people aspire to work for them. Therefore, finding talent is potentially easier.
Furthermore, if a person is lucky enough to be offered a role with one of these companies, they are more likely to take it over another.
A personal example, from my own recent visit to the Apple Store:
I recently visited Sydney, City Apple store to have my mobile phone examined for a technical issue. The experience was enjoyable from start to finish.
The centre was large, vibrant, well designed and incredibly busy. Wait time was not long because I had already booked ahead.
My attendant was polite, friendly and professional. The service/check took about 45 mins and it was thorough.
Particularly, while we went through the checks on the phone, I talked with the attendant and what she revealed about working there was informative about the culture of the organisation.
In particular, she told me how much she liked working their because they had a terrific culture. One example she gave was: “if we make a mistake, no one yells or blames. Instead they will say, OK let’s get you trained better and talk me through what you do not understand or know how to do”. That was only one of the examples.
Moreover, she explained that everyone was friendly and supportive, and it felt relaxed but very organised. Everyone knew their job, what they had to do and if they were uncertain of anything, they knew they could just ask for help. She said: “it really felt like being part of a team and that you were valued and important.”
Consequently, if that is what it is like to work at an Apple Store and service centre, I imagine it would translate to most of Apple’s enterprise. A Culture of support, team work, professionalism, service and no blame, just train. That seems like a great way to work.
Everyone knows Apple and what they do and their reputation for delivering terrific technology. Their successful brand awareness is not just due to technology.
The people that work at Apple must deliver on the promise for the company to remain a success. A culture of collaborative, team work and no blame are no doubt why Apple remains a success story.
So, how do these household names create a great Culture and maintain it?
They Document it
It starts by very clearly defining the culture they want to create. Then linking it to their business, what they do and how they differentiate themselves and make money to thrive.
They plaster it on the walls. Announce it to the world in their mission and vision statements. They don’t stop there though.
If you would like a guide to help you define the culture in your business, please request a copy of our free culture guide. Contact us if you would like further support to implement and maintain it.
Create and distribute their Culture Code Policy
It requires constant monitoring and maintenance to keep a company culture on track. One of the important ingredients to embedding and maintaining the right culture is by making it a part of the company’s human resources management process. That means making it a company policy also known as, a ‘Code of Conduct’. It needs to be clear and have a documented procedure for what happens if someone breaches it.
Get everyone aligned to it
Documenting, policy making, and sharing are only the beginning. Everyone must align and agree to the Culture for it to work and be maintained.
Every existing employee must be part of it and in agreement with it, or it is just not going to work so well. Get the team involved in creating the culture and everyone will either agree and cooperate or move on. That is a much better result than having to ask people to leave because they do not fit the culture. Read the story of how Incentra’s CEO Ronny Altit brings his team on board the vision and mission of the business here.
There are many good articles on employee engagement such as Why employees at Apple and Google are more productive and this one Employee Engagement.
Hire into it
In the hiring process keep the company culture top of mind and share it with any potential new hires.
Be vigilant about checking whether the person will fit in with the culture or not. Ask them if they it is a good fit for them. Monitor closely during probation to make sure they are a good fit.
Manage by it
If you notice something say something. It is equally important to notice someone acting by the behaviour standards expected in the Culture Code as it is to notice someone not behaving.
Ideally, as soon as possible after observing someone acting either for or against the Company Culture expectations, it must noted and commented on to reinforce desired behaviour. Furthermore, it is much easier, less stressful and difficult to have conversations about desired behaviour when everyone knows what is expected of them. When desired behaviour is documented, agreed to and known by all, it is easier to remind and refer to what was agreed.
A ‘great place to work’ will thrive far better than a not so great place. Getting the culture right is the foundation. If you would like to know more about the other steps using Human Resources Management to Drive Profits also read this article.
King Consulting HR created the Five Step Process© for creating a profitable, high performance business with the foundation step of first defining and developing the Culture. If you would like to find out more about this or any of the other services, we provide please get in touch.
If you enjoyed this article you might also like:
√ HR Strategy – 7 Tips for small business
√ Hiring Strategies that work for best fit.