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How To Build A Great Corporate Culture

People often underestimate how important corporate culture (or company culture) is when it comes to defining the level of success an organisation achieves.

Recently however, events such as the turmoil at Uber and discrimination at certain tech companies has highlighted that just chasing sales and revenue growth isn’t good enough.

To build a company that is successful (in the eyes of all your stakeholders) you need to focus on creating a strong corporate culture. Companies that have been recognised as having a great company culture include:

  • Google
  • Zappos
  • SquareSpace
  • REI
  • Adobe

So What Is Corporate Culture?

How To Build A Great Corporate Culture - What Is Corporate Culture

Corporate culture is thee shared values that characterize members of an organization and define the company’s nature.

Corporate culture guides employees on how handle themselves within and outside the business. It cannot however just be a statement or list of buzzwords that the company plasters on the walls in their office. To create a truly great corporate culture every member of the team has to believe in the vision of the company and what it stands for.

What Do Great Corporate Cultures Have In Common?

How To Build A Great Corporate Culture - Vision

The following are some of the characteristics shared by companies with great corporate cultures;

Vision

A great culture is defined by its vision. A company’s vision provides direction to the organization. It also gives guidelines on what the company should do to achieve long-term success.

For example Googles vision is:

to provide access to the world’s information in one click.”

Values

Organization values offer guidelines and behaviors on how individuals should conduct themselves in order to achieve their vision. This includes how they treat and interact with customers and colleagues.

How To Build A Great Corporate Culture - Core Values

Practices

Successful organizations practice their values in visible ways and implement what they promise to their clients. This is where companies that are great at building a strong corporate culture diverge from those who merely speak about it.

Practice is what takes your vision, mission and company statements and puts them into action.

People

Both management and employees should be willing and have the ability to implement their values. No company can have a good culture if people do not invest their time in it.

Organizations should also consider recruiting policies to make sure they hire individuals who are not only talented but should also be willing to implement the company s values.

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How To Build A Great Corporate Culture – You Have To ACT

How To Build A Great Corporate Culture - ACT

Now that we understand the important of company culture and some of the key principles that go into defining it we can now look at how you actually build it.

This is easier said than done and you shouldn’t expect a company culture to emerge overnight. It takes time and effort, but if you get it right the reward can be increased staff productivity, reduced staff turnover and in turn a better operating, more focused organisation

Corporate Culture Begins At The Top

Perhaps the most important thing to recognise is that building a strong corporate culture begins at the top. If management and the senior leadership team don’t buy into the values of the company, then why would employees?

The management have the job of communicating the company’s vision, as well as taking clear and visible steps to ensure it is implemented at every level of the organisation.

Equal Treatment Of Employees

To build a great company culture you need your employees to actually want to work with you and for you. If people are turning up to work and facing discrimination or culture of bullying nothing else you do will ever register on their radar.

In addition to clear discrimination along racial or gender lines you must also stamp out favoritism between managers and employees. People should be judged on their skill and ability to execute, not how well they play the game of office politics.

Hiring Decisions

How To Build A Great Corporate Culture - Hiring Decisions

Business owners should hire  employees who are willing to embrace change and act in a way that reflects the company’s vision. They must have a positive attitude and be willing to learn not just about the company’s products or services, but about the how and why a company works the way they do.

Moreover, a strong company should have diverse workforce. Hiring procedure should not be based upon race, ethical backgrounds or gender. A diverse workforce is also more productive and perform better.

Problem Sharing

When building a corporate culture, management and employees have to work as a team. Employees should be invited to participate in decision making, especially when it relates to issues that could impact the culture or workplace norms of the organisation.

Ultimately this provides employees with a sense of ownership over their role and the company they work for. When people feel like they belong somewhere, and are key to its success, they will have a higher likelihood of always acting in the best interests of the company and not just themselves.

How To Get Employees To Buy Into Your Corporate Culture

How to build a great corporate culture - get buy in

If you take the appropriate steps when starting and growing your company corporate culture can take hold naturally. Often though the management team will take a look around and realise everything isn’t quite as good as it could be.

In this instance management will often devise strategies to improve corporate culture and have employees buy into the mission and vision of the company.

Here are a few common ways to do that:

Make It A Key Focus

Management have to live and breath the company culture each and everyday. If it is not at the top of the company agenda it is too easy to forget about when everyone else is chasing sales or trying to achieve some other business goal.

While it shouldn’t be your own priority, employees need to see that you take company culture seriously. If managers are willing to invest in company culture, then employees will be to.

In addition to that you should focus on quality over quantity. There are hundreds of buzzwords and statements a company could use to define themselves and their employees, but you have to select the few that resonate most with you, your brand and the future you are trying to create.

Embrace Change

In a great corporate culture, individuals should be willing to embrace new opportunities and change while still holding the company’s values at the core of what they do.

A great example of this is Amazon. Founded by Jeff Bezos Amazon was initially an online bookstore. Since then they have expanded to become an ecommerce giant and provider of infrastructure that powers a large bulk of the internet (through AWS). While these are distinctly different businesses Jeff Bezos has stated time and time again that customers will always want a product or service faster and cheaper. Jeff has continued to deliver on that belief even while branching into completely different products and industries.

Celebrate Your Success

How to build a great corporate culture - Success

Everyone wants to be on a winning team. As your company evolves and develops you need to make sure that success is celebrated. This doesn’t just have to happen at the corporate level, but can also filter down to individual departments, teams or employees.

Once people feel like they are part of a winning team it often seems that things just “fall into place”. While this isn’t necessarily the case (it still takes a bunch of hard work), its the belief that it will work that can make all the difference to an employees motivation and commitment to the company.

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Also published on Medium.