Your company culture is the foundation on which your organization is built. Technologies, markets, talent, pricing and all of the other components of an organization can vary over time, but your culture is WHO you are, why you do this, and how you will be a standout organization. If you can create a great culture you can have a great company. However, a company with a weak, or worse, toxic culture will struggle forever. Notice that I didn’t say “no” culture. Even if you are not intentional about creating the culture that you want, a culture WILL be created and depending upon who you have working for you what that culture becomes is a huge question mark.
Think about any of the places that you have worked in your life. Start with the part time job during high school and walk through your career. Each and every organization had a culture regardless of whether or not there was a poster with core values on the wall and regular company outings to discuss it. As an exercise, take some time with a pencil and paper and walk through your career. Think about each job and write down words that you think describe how that organization operated. Describe what you felt when you showed up each day and again how felt when you left to go home. Use very descriptive words and phrases to do this exercise such as: lax, rebellious, ethical, unethical, dread, drab, vibrant, excited, energized, motivated, team, supported, included, driven, successful, intentional, directed, mentored, etc.
Now think about why you felt that way about going to that job or after working a day at that job. Who and what made you feel that way? Was it the boss who beat you down for each mistake? Or the leader who created a proper career path for you? Or the surroundings in which you worked? Or the fact that you understood how the company was doing financially, good OR bad? All of these things likely played a part in how you felt about that organization and why you liked or disliked working there. If the company spent the time to break all of that down, that would be their culture, driven by a set of written or unwritten core values and materialized as the feelings that you have when you are there.
Companies are starting to be so intentional about their culture that they are being very public about it and posting about it on their websites. Amazon has a page on culture on their site describing who they are and why they want to be that way. Other organizations such as IBM, Microsoft, and Ford have done the same. Organizations are finding that to hire the best talent, you need to have the best place to work.
One key to great organizations is that they figure this out early, identify the way that they want their organization to operate, and set that example for all employees, new hires, vendors, clients and all stake holders in the organization. It takes a strong leader to do this right and be consistent with their behavior every day to ensure that the culture you create is a culture in which your organization can thrive.
Michael Giuffrida from Southington CT has been operating businesses since 1997. He is an experienced entrepreneur in business management, profitable growth, business valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and information technology managed services.