Industry Market Trends
What's Your Corporate Culture?
June 23, 2009
From Enron to Google, corporate culture says a lot about an organization's character, influencing how it's perceived by customers, employees and competitors. Corporate culture is an ambiguous term: Every company has one, but its elements change depending on the setting. A positive corporate culture may express itself through happy and secure employees in a friendly environment, while a negative one may be characterized by overworked employees or ill-defined team roles. Regardless of the specifics, culture can usually be found in a company's overall philosophy and how it reflects on workplace dynamics. On a day-to-day level, corporate culture dictates the dress code, hours worked, employee training, on-site perks, interactions among workers and management, the arrangement of the work space and the general impression of being in a hostile or welcoming environment. But the final impact of organizational culture is on more than just employee satisfaction; it can also be seen in the bottom-line. According to a study by McKinsey & Co., cultural factors accounted for more than 70 percent of the obstacles that prevent a business from reaching its performance improvement goals. Thirty-three percent of barriers involved management behavior that does not support change and 39 percent were due to a culture of employee reluctance to accept innovation. "Competitors can quickly mimic a successful strategy. What they cannot reproduce quickly is a superior performance culture," the study asserts. There is a reason the same set of companies regularly appears among Fortune's 100 Best Companies to Work For, as well as ranking among the best providers of customer service and topping profitability standings a positive corporate culture elevates standards across the board. As James Heskett and Earl Sasser, authors of The Ownership Quotient, told Harvard Business School, an organization with a clearly codified corporate culture can expect the following labor benefits:
- Become better places to work;
- Become well known among prospective employees;
- High level of ownership (e.g., referral rates and ideas for improving the business from existing employees);
- Simplified screening process, as employees tend to refer similar-minded acquaintances;
- Larger pool of prospective employees; and
- Effective hiring process with fewer mismatches.
- What would you tell a friend about your organization if he or she was about to start working here?
- What is the one thing you would most like to change about this organization?
- Who is a hero around here? Why?
- What is your favorite characteristic that is present in your company?
- What kinds of people fail in your organization?
- What is your favorite question to ask a candidate for a job in your company?
- Be committed for the long term;
- Take an interest in your employees;
- Have open communication between the company and employees;
- Create a team spirit; and
- Create a livable work environment that balances work and life.