Corporate Culture: The Glue That Binds Your Teams Together
Corporate Culture reflects the values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of an organization. It’s how your employees and teams act and think they are expected to act on a daily basis.
While many may argue that the culture of an organization is implied, and not expressly defined, I would suggest that:
If a Corporate Culture isn’t defined by leadership, it will be defined by either a vacuum or implied actions you may or may not want.
I like to think of Corporate Culture as the glue that binds everyone together in an organization. You may not always see it, but it is there. It either binds us together in a positive and energizing way or it becomes a toxic, codependent glue that is suffocating the people and their work. It’s there because you created it, or because you let it fester on its own.
And, you know it the minute you step foot inside the doors of someone’s workplace.
When you walk in, there is a nervous energy in the air that is so thick you could cut through it with a butter knife. People are moving around the office with a sense of anxiety. Meetings include a lot of eye rolling. The mood of leadership, which apparently changes with the wind, is everyone’s focus.
On the other hand, you walk into another office and people are buzzing with energy. You feel lifted up just walking in, because the energy is so high. They are connecting with each other in the hallways, and while there is a deadline looming, even the rush to meet it seems greeted with a sense of excitement. Doing their best work and helping others do the same is everyone’s focus.
I’ve walked into offices in both of those scenarios. Each one with a distinct corporate culture. The first one was created in the vacuum because leadership didn’t see the need to define a solid culture. It happened on its own. And, the lack of focus by leadership on corporate culture is usually a symptom of other workplace toxicity that is lingering under the surface.
However, the second workplace scenario was deliberate and thoughtful. That corporate culture is a strategy leadership works daily on in an effort to maintain and foster they believe will make their employees excited to come to work and serve their customers.
Does your corporate culture live on a plaque on the wall just above the hallway trash can, or is it seen in all your teams?
By the way, that plaque on the wall doesn’t do jack. In fact, it’s not your corporate culture, it’s what you wish your corporate culture was. But, without a focus on bringing those plaque worthy statements to life, they don’t mean anything. In fact, they often make culture worse because they represent hypocrisy or fallen promises.
If corporate culture is the invisible glue that binds your people together, how would you define your real culture? Is it uplifting and innovative or is it trepidatious and fearful of change?
Here are some questions to help you think through your corporate culture. Whether, it’s something intentional you should be proud of, or something that needs a little adjusting.
- Is your corporate culture something leadership lets happen, or is it intentionally defined?
- Is your culture fragile and at the whim of who’s in what role, or is it solid, lasting beyond any individual person?
- What are the top 3 words you would use to define your culture? Does it match the plaque on the wall?
- And lastly, does it include any elements of innovation like being fearless, taking smart risks or continual improvement?
This last question is essential in your quest to both develop a strong culture and in gaining the competitive edge in the marketplace. No matter what you do, the world is moving forward and if your people are standing still, you’ve already lost. Change is happening and what led to success yesterday is not what leads to success tomorrow. Just take a look at Kodak, Pan Am, Sears, Blackberry and countless others if you want proof.
So how does this impact your culture?
An innovative culture values new ideas. Employees have more permission to take smart risks and think about what’s next. An innovative culture is more collaborative, more open and has its eye on the future. That’s a culture that wins in today’s crazy competitive marketplace.
If your culture isn’t innovative, then chances are it’s fostering mediocrity and an eye on status quo. It’s a culture full of “we’ve never done that before” and “that’s the way it’s always been” decision making statements. And we all know what that type of thinking leads to….nothing.
Our clients who subscribe to our online program, the IQE Pro Innovation Toolkit for their teams tell us that the improved innovative mindset that comes from having access to a wealth of innovation resources has become the culture toolbox that helps their teams live and breath an innovative culture daily. And, that has led to high impact solutions and opportunities.
What’s your corporate culture lead to?