Post Viral World Game Change
A strong culture is a common denominator among the most successful companies. All have consensus at the top regarding cultural priorities, and those values focus not on individuals but on the organization and its goals. Leaders in successful companies live their cultures every day and go out of their way to communicate their cultural identities to employees as well as prospective new hires. They are clear about their values and how those values define their organizations and determine how the organizations run.
Understanding Corporate Culture
In its simplest definition, culture is the way things get done in an organization. It’s about the behaviors and attitudes of employees and management and how that translates into different approaches to performance—both good and bad.
There isn’t an exact definition for company culture. It encompasses many aspects of a business. But, culture affects how employees feel about the company they work for and can make a huge difference to overall performance. Culture is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’, it’s an essential.
Company culture is much more than surface level perks and it isn’t a one-size-fits-all endeavour. Culture is about feelings, behaviours and meaningful relationships under the umbrella of the values, mission and aims of the business. It’s about giving employees a sense of purpose, supporting them and holding them accountable. It’s about collaboration and development. It involves trust and respect and has to come from the top down. Good culture is essential for attracting talent, retaining good staff and is appealing to customers.
A company’s culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions, treatment of clients, client satisfaction, and every other aspect of operations.
Corporate cultures, whether shaped intentionally or grown organically, reach to the core of a company’s ideology and practice, and affect every aspect of a business.
For example, Alphabet (GOOGL), the parent of Google, is well known for its employee-friendly corporate culture. It explicitly defines itself as unconventional and offers perks such as telecommuting, flextime, tuition reimbursement, free employee lunches, and on-site doctors. At its corporate headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., the company offers on-site services such as oil changes, car washes, massages, fitness classes, and a hair stylist. Its corporate culture helped it to consistently earn a high ranking on Fortune magazine’s list of “100 Best Companies to Work For.”
Awareness of corporate or organizational culture in businesses and other organizations such as universities emerged in the 1960s. The term corporate culture developed in the early 1980s and became widely known by the 1990s. Corporate culture was used during those periods by managers, sociologists, and other academics to describe the character of a company. This included generalized beliefs and behaviors, company-wide value systems, management strategies, employee communication, and relations, work environment, and attitude. Corporate culture would go on to include company origin myths via charismatic chief executive officers (CEOs), as well as visual symbols such as logos and trademarks.
By 2015, corporate culture was not only created by the founders, management, and employees of a company, but was also influenced by national cultures and traditions, economic trends, international trade, company size, and products.
There are a variety of terms that relate to companies affected by multiple cultures, especially in the wake of globalization and the increased international interaction of today’s business environment. As such, the term cross-culture refers to “the interaction of people from different backgrounds in the business world”; culture shock refers to the confusion or anxiety people experience when conducting business in a society other than their own; and reverse culture shock is often experienced by people who spend lengthy times abroad for business and have difficulty readjusting upon their return.
To create positive cross-culture experiences and facilitate a more cohesive and productive corporate culture, companies often devote in-depth resources, including specialized training, that improves cross-culture business interactions.
The current awareness of corporate culture is more acute now than ever.
Examples of Contemporary Corporate Cultures
Just as national cultures can influence and shape a corporate culture, so can a company’s management strategy. In top companies of the 21st century, such as Google, Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Netflix Inc. (NFLX), less traditional management strategies such as fostering creativity, collective problem solving, and greater employee freedom have been the norm and thought to contribute to their business success.
Progressive policies such as comprehensive employee benefits and alternatives to hierarchical leadership—even doing away with closed offices and cubicles—are a trend that reflects a more tech-conscious, modern generation. This trend marks a change from aggressive, individualistic, and high-risk corporate cultures such as that of former energy company Enron.
High-profile examples of alternative management strategies that significantly affect corporate culture include holacracy, which has been put to use at shoe company Zappos (AMZN), and agile management techniques applied at music streaming company Spotify.
Holacracy is an open management philosophy that, among other traits, eliminates job titles and other such traditional hierarchies. Employees have flexible roles and self-organization, and collaboration is highly valued. Zappos instituted this new program in 2014 and has met the challenge of the transition with varying success and criticism.
Similarly, Spotify, a music-streaming service, uses the principles of agile management as part of its unique corporate culture. Agile management, in essence, focuses on deliverables with a flexible, trial-and-error strategy that often groups employees in a start-up environment approach to creatively tackle the company’s issues at hand.