Culture is one of the most misused and overspun words in the business world. We blame company culture when things go wrong, praise it when they go right, and curse it when dysfunction bubbles and it causes us to buy, acquire or give the belief that we can grow. We also use culture out of context to make great stories for social media, recruiting and PR. Is it really to blame for all our business circumstances? If so, what is it about company culture that makes or breaks a business? We explore the topic of company culture, the evolution of the concept and the challenges of getting your culture corporate right.
Company culture as a growth strategy
In the early 80s, corporations, family businesses and private equity firms started leveraging the idea of company culture as a growth strategy. Corporations started to change shape, social expectations of work, home and technology, and the Internet started making waves. The one constant attribute of profitable businesses was culture. Culture is the ideals, expectations, values, beliefs, attitudes and morals of a collective group. The more synchronized the culture, the more successful that groups were at accomplishing their goals.
Investopedia writes a great article about how company culture played a role in the success of big-name companies. If you want to put their theory into practice, be smart about how you create a corporate culture.
Misconceptions about company culture
Company culture is set by the board and/or executive leaders, fostered by management and realized in support staff. Most boards and executives get engagement and brand confused with culture. But culture defines how a group will behave, the brand is the visualization and engagement reflects if people care about it.
The most common misuse of culture is as a marketing story or part of recruiting. Company culture is not a marketing play. It is impossible to fake and should not be used as an offering in the recruiting process. Culture shifts on a dime and if you aren’t transparent about the work and the results of the work, you'll set your company up for unnecessary turnover before a new employee even starts. Eliminate the oversell and create a clear job profile.
Creating the right company culture
Business success is not solely dependent on company culture. It requires a beautiful symphony of external factors like market, product timing, and political, socio-economic and internal factors. No matter how you decide to break down the internal factors as individual functioning silos of the business, it’s the culture that brings it all together. The highest performing businesses (no matter the size) are successful because there is a clear alignment of motivation, process and attitude among the board, CEO and the executive team.
Some businesses struggle with culture because they don’t know how to create it. Understanding how to create, manage, fix or rebuild your corporate culture requires a lot of expertise. It also requires an uncomfortable honesty that can make decision-makers squirm! In general, people associate culture with demographics. age, race, ethnicity, income level, etc. But they have little to do with creating a successful culture. If you want to blame your culture issues on the younger generation or vice versa, you're heading for failure.
If you are a business leader looking to buy or acquire companies, or you just want to learn how to troubleshoot company culture, evaluate these following three scenarios:
How do you know when your company culture is “right”?
You will know you are on the right track when:
- Goals are being accomplished
- The churn of leadership is appropriate for the goals of the business
- Your team focuses more on revenue than organizational problems
Don’t get comfortable. Financially-sound companies must stay on top of their A-game. That is true whether you want to be the best neighborhood restaurant, dominate your industry or build your business to sell.
How do you know when your company culture needs urgent care?
The warning signs should be alerted when:
- Goals take longer than normal to achieve
- The churn of top-performing leadership is high or your life-timers happily stay put
- Your team is over-focused on organizational problems
You have a come-to-Jesus moment. If you are on the board or the executive running the ship, take this opportunity to evaluate the business. Do you want to fix it? What if you are the problem? Think about hiring someone to help before it goes too far. There is a thin line between fixable and broken, don’t miss it.
How do you know when your company culture is broken?
You will release your company culture is in a mess when:
- Financial performance becomes stale or declines
- There is dissension in the executives and the board
- Your team is more engaged in problem identification than solutions
What to do to fix your company culture
Fixing corporate culture is not easy and it depends on who you are. Here is what you should consider:
- If you are in a support role, create a pepelwerk profile and be ready to look for a better job fit for your skills
- If you are management, tell your executives the truth
- If you want to save your job and your company, now is not the time to be bashful
- If you are a CEO, get your head out of the sand, hire a professional and be real with your board and executive team
Your options are to go gang-buster and clean your culture house, prepare to sell to the highest bidder or head towards bankruptcy. Each option requires a plan. There is no easy way out and the road to recovery is ruthless.
How pepelwerk can help
At pepelwerk, we aim to change the working world for the better! That means changing the way job seekers find work, how companies find the Talent, and the approach to hiring for the future of work. It's an ideal time to reassess your company culture! Want to learn more about how we help Employers transform their hiring process? Check out the benefits of the pepelwerk Hiring Hub!
pepelwerk is not just a recruitment platform or hiring solution for Employers, we combine the vast experience of our team of recruiters and HR experts with cutting-edge technology to match Employers with suitable candidates for their job openings. Using skills-based job matching, powered by AI, our intelligent software is a game-changer for hiring. No searching, just matching!