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"When it comes to culture, everything speaks."
- Matthew Hudson, author "Culturrific"

June 2009
I am preparing for a speaking engagement on Corporate Culture and it seemed a perfect topic for this month's Pointer. After seeing "under the hood" at over 50 organizations in 10 industries, each has a unique culture; one that has either come by design or by default. An organizational culture requires the same attention that a brand campaign or a product roll-out does; strategy determines the "what" needs to happen and culture determines the "how". Consider your own company culture - what is it? Is it aligned to your stated company values? Is anyone responsible for its measurement and good health? This month's article provides details on the factors that go into a company culture so you can do your own analysis of how your organization stacks up.        
All the best,
Jennifer Signature
Culture Defined

OfficeThe definition of Corporate Culture includes common understanding of definitions and traditions, including the appropriate ways to behave. In short, it is the way things get done at your company.


A strong culture gives a business an edge in two major ways:
1) it empowers people to think of themselves on behalf of the company and it allows them to do it with confidence.  
2) it builds brand image as the customer experience is shaped consistently and reinforced with every interaction. 
 Spend a few moments considering your corporate culture and how you can be more intentional about shaping it into the one you desire.

 Questions to Consider

What five words describe your corporate culture today? Are you satisfied with those descriptors?
By limiting your description you can hone in on succinct thoughts about your culture. Ask the same question of your team and compare answers. You may find their perceptions extremely insightful.
There are several factors that influence a corporate culture: 
  - Atmosphere - how the office or retail location looks, smells, and sounds. This includes how employees dress and are titled
  - Policies  - what is formally allowed and isn't allowed
  - Performance Measures - the behaviors and results that people are measured by both formally and informally
  - Reward - what actions are noticed and incentivized
  - Training / Onboarding Experience - how you welcome your new employees to your company
  - Folklore - stories that get told about your company by your customers and employees
  - Tone of Leader - leadership will always have the most influence over your organization's culture 


OfficeHow does your atmosphere support your stated business goals and values?

Are your policies directly supporting the behaviors you expect from your employees?

Take a look at your performance reviews, do they measure behaviors proportional to results?
Do employee's receive rewards not just for the results they get but how they get them?
When new employees start with the company does the Onboarding experience consist of a review of paperwork and benefits with Human Resources in a conference room? 
Does the company encourage folklore as a way to keep traditions alive? 
Does every member of senior management set the right tone to support the culture? Duplicity is toxic to credibility. When you say one thing and then have hidden rules, you force employees to behave in self preserving ways; they learn the loopholes, work-arounds, and can go underground. Most employees will follow the path of least resistance to meeting their goals.   
One way to know if your actual corporate culture is aligned to your desired one is to read about your company in the news, on its website, or in internal publications and ask if you (and your employees) feel like the picture painted is an accurate representation of the way things really are? If you are a business that draws the general public to your location, there will be a wealth of chatter online about the real customer experience. Check out what people are saying.
As a manager, you cannot control every aspect of your corporate culture, but you do wield a great influence over it. By understanding and intentionally shaping your company's culture, you can work and interact more effectively.

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