Company or organizational culture means what happens when no one is watching.
There is no universal right or wrong culture. The rightness or wrongness of culture is always determined in relation to why the organisation exists and where it is going. The role of culture is therefore to enable the organisation’s success. You can only succeed by being aware of and by leading your culture.
What do we mean by company culture?
Leidenschaft’s official definition of company culture is as follows:
Company culture refers to the conscious and unconscious values, structures, practices and manifestations of the oranisation that guide the behaviour of its members, unite them and separate them from other companies.
Thus, company culture is the way in which a company and its people operate. We believe that company culture is built on four cornerstones:
- the perception of people in the organisation,
- the values it represents,
- the reason for its existence, and
- the direction the organisation is heading.
These cornerstones lay the foundations for culture, but in the end culture appears and becomes a reality in everyday life. Next, we will go through ten truths about company culture that every leader should know.
Every company has a culture.
Your organization also has a culture, whether you manage it consciously or not. Company culture is formed on the basis of shared worldview, assumptions, feelings, values, encounters and beliefs. Processes, methods, stories and other visible structures are just reflections of culture. As a leader, you need to be aware of your culture and the assumptions and basic truths that shape your organization. A company’s culture often looks like its founder and leader, for better or for worse.
There is no universally right or wrong company culture.
No organisation has a culture that is better or worse than that of another company. The “correctness” of a culture is always determined in relation to what an organization wants to be and what it intends to achieve. Because you get what you lead.
Company culture can and must be led.
Only a consciously and properly led company culture can provide the organzation with a lasting competitive advantage. All the processes and structures of an organization must be shaped by company culture. Recruitment and orientation should look and feel the same. Employees must be rewarded and promoted on the same basis, respecting the culture. The culture of your company is realized every day by all employees of your organization, but as a leader you determine what kind of actions your organization values and tolerates. As a leader, you have an unrivalled opportunity to influence the stories that shape culture, highlight heroes, create culture-enhancing rituals and symbols. You decide who works and who doesn’t in your organization. Leading the company culture requires rigour, perseverance and systematics. In culture, everything is connected to everything and the details distinguish the excellence from the average.
Shared values are at the heart of company culture.
The best way to manage a company’s culture is to define clear values for the organization and to manage the organization through them. The values must always be true to the organization and the management must set example. It should be remembered that the purpose of values is to describe how an organization believes it will achieve its goals, not what the organization wants to achieve. To influence employees, values must be formulated in such a way that they affect workers on an emotional level.
A strong company culture is binary.
If you really want a competitive advantage, you have to build a strong culture. A strong culture is recognized both internally and externally, and the person can easily understand whether the culture is suitable for their values and way of working. Strong cultures are not for everyone and, at best, culture chews and spits out automatically those who do not adapt to it.
Recruitment is the most important process for company culture.
Who and on what basis you choose to your organization will largely determine your culture. A strong and clearly communicated company culture will guide the right kind of jobseekers to your company. Make sure that the external employer brand matches the internal reality. When recruiting, you must always choose people primarily on the basis of culture fit. The assessment of the cultural fit must be done systematically and with care. When recruiting one must never compromise, because an open position is always better than poor recruitment.
Company culture cannot be copied.
No one can copy your culture, and you cannot copy the culture of another company. Policies and structures are easy to replicate, but the fact that shoes are taken off on arrival at the office does not make any organization a new Supercell. Unfortunately, copying practices from other companies is often counterproductive, as copied practices may conflict with the organization’s existing culture. Practices that build and support the culture must always be built from the organization’s own starting point, not from external trick collections (you can and should of course seek inspiration from them).
A minority is not allowed to define your culture.
In every organization there is someone who may be abusing the given freedoms. The fact that Pete has been seen mowing the lawn on a remote working day must not result in the entire organization being banned from working remotely. Your culture cannot be built around possible exceptions. If you fear or believe that individual persons are abusing the freedoms granted to them, deal with these individuals, but only when abuses occur. Trust people, they are worth it in principle and build your culture on the terms of the majority.
A company culture is always stronger than a person and a strategy.
Culture is so deeply embedded in your organization (whether you lead it or not) that it teaches and guides individuals to act according to the culture sooner or later. An individual cannot act against culture for long. The old Drucker truth is that the new strategy of the company, recorded on powerpoint by the management team at a Lapland cottage, will never be realized if it is contrary to the basic laws of the company’s culture.
Company culture can change, but slowly.
The company culture changes over time and can also be changed consciously. A change in company culture requires systematic and persistent work, and you can expect that the change will take years. Cultural assumptions and “truths” are so deep in your company that cultural change requires both unlearning the old and adopting new ways of working. Therefore, the easiest way to build a winning corporate culture is to keep the leading of the company culture on the management team’s agenda from the beginning.
Why does company culture matter?
Employee experience is the strongest factor that affects customer experience.
Culture is a tool for influencing the employee experience. In the end, the success of a company is determined by the loyalty of its customers. Customer loyalty is most directly and strongly influenced by the company’s customers’ experience of the company; whether the company’s customer expectations are fulfilled, exceeded or failed as a result of the company’s products, services or other encounters.
Similarly, employees’ experience of organization is a key single factor affecting the quality of the customer experience. Employee experience is led and influenced by the company culture. In order for culture to produce the desired employee experience, the organization must have employee insight. This forms the success chain of the company by our definition. A company culture is always at the heart of the success chain. With the help of the company culture, the organization either rises or falls.
The matter can also be seen from another perspective. We have therefore summarised the new rules for recruitment as follows:
- There’s always a shortage of top talent.
- A thriving, developing and happy talent attracts people like them.
- The talent always chooses their employer.
We believe that the organisation that has the talent wins, and in this transparent world, the internal reality of the organisation is its brand. So you get the talent that you deserve by your culture, that’s why culture matters. Right now. Tomorrow. Always.
HOW IS THE COMPANY CULTURE DESIGNED?
Company culture can and must be led.
We say that we are a company culture agency and that we design cultures. What do we mean by company culture design?
By company culture design, we mean active, conscious actions that aim to influence the culture of the organization, shaping its thinking and structures, and thereby the activities of its members.
In practice, this means that we gather the needs of the organisation, the wishes of its employees and combine them into functional structures, processes, actions or even put it to words that support the target culture.
Managing the employee experience requires employee insight.
The purpose of the company culture is to produce the desired employee experience. In order for culture to produce the desired employee experience, the company needs employee insight. At the heart of employee insight is the obvious and banal fact: Organizations are made up of individuals. This has always been the case and will always be the case. None of the world’s megatrends will change this fact. In the same breath, it can also be said that the strongest and weakest link in an organization is always the individual. In light of the above arguments, it is interesting to note that the individual has not been at the centre of management for a long time. Therefore, management has not been done in a “customer-oriented” way. (Also) recently, the individual has been trampled by ismisms, new tools and (quality) processes. It is no wonder then that the majority of businesses do not grow and do not thrive, and people do not feel well. The organization needs employee insight to support its management.
By employee insight, I mean fact based information of the factors that affect individual employee’s motivation and commitment, as well as the understanding of the similarities and differences between employees, cumulating from this data. And the same summed up in plain language: employee insight is an individual centric way of understanding of motivation, well-being and commitment factors that affect the organization.
Siqni Employee Understanding Survey
Siqni will help you lead better.
To help leaders better lead their organizations, we have developed the world’s first employee insight survey, Siqni. Siqni’s mission is to provide the organization with employee insight and to measure the employee experience. You can find out more about Siqni on its own website.
One company culture? Coming up.
We never want to eat alone. We are willing and eager to discuss any challenge or opportunity you might be facing. With any luck, we can find a solution to your challenges together. We are also brave enough to say no if we are not at our best when it comes to your challenge. To date, the hour spent with us has not taken any organisation backwards.
If company culture is important to you or your company, please contact us.