Corporate culture refers to shared values, beliefs, attitudes, and practices that characterize and guide an organisation's behaviour. It encompasses everything from the company's mission and vision to its communication style, decision-making processes, and employee interactions. A strong corporate culture can help foster a sense of unity and purpose among employees, while a weak or toxic culture can lead to low morale, high turnover, and poor performance.
Simon Sinek believes that corporate culture combines core values and behaviour. While many companies define their core corporate values well, they often struggle to implement them behaviorally. The behaviour of individuals within a company should arise naturally from the core values. Therefore, the desired behaviour can only be influenced indirectly. Employees can only display the desired behaviour if they intrinsically identify with the core values. In other words, the corporate culture should be tailored to fit the people and not vice versa.
The importance of a clear corporate culture
Having a clear corporate culture is of utmost importance. It helps define the values, beliefs, and behaviours expected from employees. A well-defined corporate culture can increase employee satisfaction, better teamwork, and improve productivity. It also helps attract and retain top talent, as employees are likelier to stay with a company that aligns with their values and beliefs. Therefore, companies must invest time and effort in developing and maintaining a strong corporate culture.
A clear corporate culture is crucial for any organization as it directs its employees. When the company culture is recorded in core values and desired behaviour, it becomes easier to give direction and correct people who do not exhibit the right behaviour. The core values must be formulated to avoid ambiguity about the desired behaviour.
For instance, 'honesty' may not be a clear core value, but 'always telling the truth' is. This immediately clarifies what kind of behaviour is expected from the employees. Similarly, 'quality' may not be a clear core value, but 'always striving to deliver the best quality' is.
When the corporate culture is clear to everyone, it leads to a natural selection process. For example, if every employee is expected to answer emails immediately, even during the weekend, anyone who doesn't like this will automatically drop out. This way, the organization can retain the employees who best fit its culture, resulting in a win-win situation.
Signs of Toxic Corporate Culture
Identifying a toxic corporate culture can be challenging, but there are three key signals to look out for. These include high employee turnover rates, lack of transparency in decision-making processes, and a general feeling of negativity or distrust among employees. If you notice any of these signs in your workplace, it may be time to address the underlying issues and work towards creating a healthier and more positive work environment.
Assessing whether your organization has a clear corporate culture is crucial. It is essential to be alert to the following signals:
1. High throughput speed:
No matter your efforts, it may not be possible to retain employees in your organization for an extended period. Studies show that one in five employees resign due to the company culture. This indicates that there may be numerous other reasons for resignation. However, a significant increase in the turnover rate may signal underlying issues with the corporate culture that need to be addressed.
2. Little to no enthusiasm:
Observe your colleagues. Are they enjoying their work, or do they seem as if they could be sitting in the dentist's waiting room? A negative atmosphere can harm job satisfaction and productivity. Hence, creating a positive work environment where employees feel valued and happy is crucial.
3. Fear of failure:
Making mistakes is a natural part of work. However, employees may experience different levels of fear when making such mistakes. Do they know that mistakes can happen, or are they disproportionately afraid of the consequences of a possible mistake? If the latter is true, it is time to take action to integrate psychological safety into the corporate culture.
Three signs of a healthy company culture
It's important to recognize the signs of a healthy company culture. Here are three indicators to look out for:
1. Humor is encouraged
When there is room for humour, even in serious work environments, it's a good sign that the company culture is positive and supportive.
2. Shared values and behavior
A strong corporate culture is built on shared values and behaviour. If you feel like you're part of a family where everyone has their personality but there is a high degree of togetherness, it's a good sign. This is also important to remember when hiring new employees to ensure a good fit and reduce the risk of early dismissal.
3. Supportive environment
A company with a good corporate culture is one where employees support each other and celebrate successes. When everyone is invested in the company's success, cohesion naturally arises.
How do you improve company culture?
Consider these three steps to determine if any improvements can be made to your company culture:
Step 1: Are the core values clear?
Are your core values clearly defined without using vague terms such as "honesty" or "quality"?
Step 2: Is it clear what behaviour is desired?
Is it also clear what behaviour is expected of employees to uphold these core values?
Step 3: Is this behaviour used as a measuring instrument?
And remember, the behaviour of leaders is also intrinsic to disseminating and upholding values throughout a business. Is the desired behaviour actively managed? Sometimes, employees who perform well are not addressed if their behaviour does not align with the core values. This lack of accountability does not encourage others to display the desired behaviour. Therefore, having a clear policy and using the desired behaviour as an active measuring instrument is important.
Improving Company Culture with Team Building Activities
Team building activities are an excellent way of exploring organisational values, whether defining them for the first time, reviewing them or communicating them to staff. Here are a few suggestions from the Catalyst Team Building Network:
One Voice - Participants feel the joy and uplifting power of singing together.
Speak Up Speak Out - Individuals express their opinions on company values in a relaxed environment.
Flat Out Pyramid Puzzle - Teams collaborate to construct puzzle sections that join to form a giant pyramid.
Hands On - Incorporate your handprint with individual expressions into a logo
Leadership Stories - Experiment with different leadership approaches to explore how corporate culture starts with leaders.
Time to Talk - A fast-paced engagement tool that sparks spontaneous conversations and gives players an equal voice.
We've established that a strong company culture leads to elevated productivity, strong brand identity, better staff retention, improved team performance and happy, engaged employees. Take the time to assess if your core values are clear, what behaviour is desired and if you are using that behaviour as a measure. Consider incorporating Team Building activities into your strategy to improve Corporate Culture in your organisation.