What is the Definition of a Good Corporate Culture and Why Should it Matter?

How can the people and culture of your firm make it a better place to work?

by Rod Dunne on November 1, 2011

in Biz Dev

You’ll find many companies and organizations place a high premium on building and nurturing their corporate culture. Culture helps define your company and can be used by your employees and members to create a solid representation of the organization.

Culture is so much more than just building your brand image – it is about achieving the ideal state that the organization aspires to. Moreover, small scale industry as well as multinationals can benefit from clearly defined organizational culture.

By understanding your corporate culture definition, you will be able to optimize their knowledge and maximize their resources to reach their goals.

In this post I’ll step you through some of the key factors which play a major part in defining your culture and how to improve/define it.

What is corporate culture?

A common question that faces organizations is, ‘What is corporate culture?’ It may not always be easy to define in the context of the organization itself, particularly during the first phases of its culture definition activities.

Although the corporate culture definition varies depending on what your organization is about, it can be summed up as the collective value system, attitudes and beliefs of your group. It is the set of standards that define what your employees sees as its best practices.

It may even define your ethics in business operations and transactions. For example, large legal firms will have very strong ethics about the work practices they permit their staff to be involved with. Any hint of digressing from the firms strong sense of ethics can severely impact the companies standing in the industry.

It is this set of standards that your organization uses as a reference with which to compare their performance, such as in the areas of production, manufacturing, customer service and human resources, among others.

So then, what is organizational culture?

Organizational culture is similar to corporate culture in the sense that it is your set of common values, beliefs and attitudes that is prevalent in your organization. However, corporate culture also focuses on creating an image of the company as a method of marketing to differentiate itself from its competitors.

Organizational culture is observable, creating a sense of place or order for your team members, so each one knows exactly what is expected of them. Since culture is an agreed-upon value system, there is a strong sense of unity and continuity among your group members and a solid vision about your company’s goals and their roles (that is, the employees roles) in making sure these are achieved.

When setting up your own business you may define a culture for organization in order to inform new employees how you expect teams to work. For example, many start-ups in Silicon Valley have a very relaxed atmosphere where individuals are expected to multitask in different roles. This requires individuals willing and able to take on different tasks. This type of can-do organizational culture fosters a dynamism within the company right from the very start.

What does culture mean to improving staff loyalty?

When one of your employees asks, ‘What does culture mean?’, it is usually because he or she has no idea how it relates to your organization to which he or she belongs. Culture is all about identity, the characteristics that help define your company and make it different from others in the same industry. This identity helps build a sense of belonging among your employees, allowing them to feel that they work for an organization that knows exactly what it is, what it wants to achieve and how to go about it.

As a result, employees are more likely to identify with the organization’s goals and to want to have a part in it. You’ll find that employees who belong to organizations with a clearly defined culture are more likely to be proud of who they are and who they work for. This sense of pride ultimately results in a strong sense of loyalty.

This same phenomenon is observable in cultures around the world. Countries that have retained their unique practices and beliefs are more aware of who they are and what they want.

It is easier for people who belong to countries with well defined cultures around the world to express themselves and to feel a strong sense of pride about their identity and what they do. This same sense is what many companies are trying to nurture among their employees because of its power to unite and inspire people from different backgrounds and experiences.

Google corporate culture: a modern template for every organization

Google is a fine example of a well-defined corporate culture. It is viewed as an innovative company that thrives on ensuring excellence in every product or service and in openness to new ideas, allowing them to stay one step ahead of the competition.

More than anything, though, Google corporate culture is defined by how well it takes care of its staff and how it encourages a close knit alliance among different employees. Google corporate culture is a product of the times but the principles it is built on has been tested and proven for decades.

Can cultural awareness training really help your organization?

Building a culture can seem like a lot of work. After all, a prevalent set of values naturally emerges when people get together. In most cases, this simply develops as a result of interactions among individuals and cliques. However, therein lies the problem.

Allowing some semblance of culture to develop through interactions without setting a standard can be problematic in the long run. It is quite possible for members to simply build their own values and belief systems that may turn out to be erroneous or flawed.

These systems may not even match what management wants the company to achieve, something that will ultimately defeat the purpose of trying to build a corporate culture in the first place. This can become a major problem in multinationals where geographically separate offices need to work together. This can result in a culture clash between different work practices.

One area where training does come in handy is in the use of e-mails and internal communications. Various types of online business systems such as e-mail and instant messaging are commonly used these days. However, cultural differences can easily be identified and misconstrued when individuals use these tools incorrectly. For example, the use of slang or irony can often be confusing when individuals from different cultures are working together send each other emails. This is where training can inform individuals about clear communication patterns they should be following.

With cultural awareness training, employees, staff and management will be able to discuss openly what their plans and expectations are. They can then use these to build a foundation upon which their principles, values, practices and beliefs will be put to good use and optimized. With a socially defined set of rules of engagement, so to speak, an organization can grow, progress and profit.

Author Rod Dunne...

Blog owner and sole writer Rod DunneI am the owner and sole writer on Product-ivity.com. This is my personal blog detailing troubleshooting tips for small businesses. Posts are based upon 2 decades in consultancy & innovation management within startups/maturing companies.

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