26 FEB, 2015

Why Your Company Culture Can Be Your Greatest Advantage

If your company has a great culture along with a solid product or service, you’ll be hard to beat. Here’s why:

Company culture dictates the way everything is done.

Forget about your employee handbook, your mission statement, or your rules. Your company culture is the unseen guiding force behind the way employees act, whether someone is watching or not. A company where values like creativity, productivity, teamwork, integrity, and customer focus are ingrained will win every time. Depending on the industry and the overall environment, these qualities might manifest themselves in totally different ways—for example, a marketing agency will differ significantly from a financial advisory firm. The goal is not for every company to replicate a certain idea of a good culture; it’s to foster the best version of their own.

Great company culture can’t be duplicated or taken away.

Your competitors can lower their prices to beat yours; they can steal your technology and replicate it; and they can even poach your customers. One thing they can’t do is recreate exactly what it’s like to work at your company. A great culture bleeds outside your doors to your customer interactions and service levels, and that’s where you’ll beat the competition even if your products are similar.

Everyone wants to be a part of positive workplace culture.

Other companies will approach your best employees with offers of better salaries or titles, and some of them may accept. But if you have built a truly great place to work, most of them won’t. Not only that, a great culture attracts talent, so you’ll find you have a better applicant pool to work from next time you have an open position.

Where does company culture come from?

Management sets the tone for culture in several ways: with the way they act, policy decisions, organizational structure, who they hire, and even the way the office is set up and decorated. However, the company culture must be preserved by hiring employees who fit into it and also by purposely nurturing it with communication and events.

Let your employees know what is important about the culture, and stress to them that they are the guardians of those values. Recognize and reward those you see living the values you want to preserve. And if there’s something about the culture you want to change and improve, let them know that too. For example, if you notice that your employees are not putting the customer first enough, let them know it. Make a point to highlight cases in which employees went above and beyond for customers and stress that everyone should strive to achieve this standard. If the culture feels a bit dull, make a point to organize a weekly happy hour or game night. Things won’t change overnight, but if you keep working at it you’ll see improvements.

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