Just How Important is Company Culture?

Kristi Birkeland on Dec 11, 2018 3:00:00 AM

It seems like everywhere you turn, there’s another article about company culture. How to build a good one, how to avoid a bad one, how this company rocked it, or how that company completely screwed it up.

No one would blame you if you were tired of hearing about it. But here’s the thing: Company culture can literally make or break you as a business.

Who you are, how you act, and what you believe will eventually come back to you. Or come back to haunt you.

Very few people start a business with bad intent, and yet it’s shocking how many “good” companies end up with poor practices, corrupt leaders, and in horrific, cringe-worthy situations.

How does this happen? One (little) thing at a time.

Just about every business you can think of began with a great idea and few people dedicated to making it work. During the incubation stage, it’s pretty easy to create an atmosphere of teamwork, camaraderie, and commitment to the company goal. Start up culture is often known for being highly productive, ultra-creative and super exciting.

When new people and processes start to get added into the mix, it becomes harder to maintain that united passion, sense of purpose, and team spirit. As the business grows, so does the risk of bringing on individuals who aren’t a good cultural fit. It may be hardly noticeable at first, but over time the organization can shift from one person’s big, crazy dream to everyone’s big, crazy nightmare.

Now here’s the good news: Because company culture is created from within, it can also be changed from within.

How does this happen? One (little) thing at a time.

It all starts by clearly defining who you are and who you want to be.

  • What do you stand for?
  • What kind of people do you want on your team?
  • What are the values that will drive every action and interaction, from every employee, manager, and staff person, every single day?

Once you decide what matters most and how you will live that truth, you can start filling your bus with the right kind of people and reinforcing those values in big and small ways at every turn.

But getting and keeping the right people is only one part of the equation. To properly build and maintain the vision, organizations need to go all in on their values. They’ve got to live and breathe their core beliefs and be completely committed to demonstrating them with everything they say and do.

If you’re looking for an example of this concept in action, The Ideal Team Player is a quick read that illustrates how vitally important company culture is and how to go about finding and hiring ideal team players. The book identifies ideal team players as people who work hard, leave their egos on the shelf, and have a knack for dealing with a variety of personalities and situations. It also illustrates ways you can determine if your current and potential employees have these qualities.

But more importantly, The Ideal Team Player also paints a vivid picture of what can happen when an organization continually commits to its culture.

When it comes to culture, there’s no such thing as a little thing.

When you emphasize your company values in a strong and consistent manner in all things big and small, those who don’t share those beliefs will feel uncomfortable in the environment you’ve created.

Not only will they not fit in, they will naturally select out, taking their bad behaviors to a company that is more accepting of such things, or who isn’t as clear about how to live their truth.

And then you’ll know you’ve done it right.  

 

photo by Lipik Stock Media

Topics: Company Culture, HR Strategy