30 JAN, 2015

Why Company Culture is So Important

Company culture is one of those things that’s hard to define, but that we can all feel. In concrete terms, it’s the behavioral norms (both formal and informal) established by the daily operations and activities of the people who collectively make up an organization. If the company were a person, it would be his or her attitude and core belief system.

For example—think about how company culture dictates the following:

How a new employee is integrated into the organization: Does he have an affectionate nickname by week 3 or is he largely ignored until month 3 when everyone begrudgingly acknowledges his existence?

How stress is handled: Do people get in a room together with a white board and problem solve, or do blame-filled emails start flying around?

How employees act: Are people relaxed and able to be themselves or are they constantly on-guard and suspicious of others’ motives?

How customers are treated: Do employees think of your customers as valued partners or are they seen as annoyances?

Just from these few examples it’s clear how damaging an unhealthy company culture can be. And just as a person’s attitudes and beliefs are largely shaped by his parents, a company’s culture flows from its leaders. They not only set the behavioral norms and “vibe” of the company, but they also perpetuate it by hiring others who will fit into that environment. Leaders have the power to shape culture by the examples they set with their own words and actions, policies they create, enforcement of those policies (or lack thereof), and the managers they put in place.

Running a company is incredibly stressful and there are a million things to take into consideration, but the importance of building and nurturing a great culture should not be overlooked. You can have the best product or service in the world, but you’ll struggle if you create an environment where employees are not engaged. It’s easy to lose perspective on the importance of treating people right when you’re faced with the bottom line and under pressure to deliver, but the truth is that if you take care of your employees they will deliver for you.

Share this insight: