How Important is the Culture of An Organization?
Updated: Dec 19, 2021
In its simplest form, an organization's culture shows up in the happy people working for it, each of them genuinely rooting for their company’s success. But in reality, there are many more layers that contribute to the positive environment leading to satisfied employees.
What is Organizational Culture?
For a long time now, businesses have focused on hard organizational angles like growth, mission, vision, and key metrics, all bold and decisive business terms that signal to shareholders, investors and customers that a company has its act together. An organization’s culture, on the other hand, focuses on the softer aspects of human interaction, both as individuals and in teams, that make employees feel supported, valued and heard. As a species, we perform better when the culture of our workplaces, just like our home and family environment, supports our personal growth and well-being.
Role of Culture in an Organization
Truly successful businesses take a holistic approach. There's no one-or-the-other approach; both the hard performance parameters and soft culture skills work hand in hand with each other. Organizations built around strong company values use their company culture as a power tool to drive business in the following ways:
Culture drives diversity and attracts the right kind of talent to your company. Word spreads quickly in the market, and your applicant pool is automatically aligned to the values you support.
Good culture creates norms that outlast a company's owners, founders, executives and all else, thus solving one of the greatest challenges that all businesses will eventually face; the nightmare of succession! Culture creates future leaders who can comfortably take on the reins of the company when the previous leadership ends their term.
The guiding and operating principles created through a positive organizational culture serve as a compass for all decision making. Everyone in your company speaks the same language with one cohesive, authentic message that permeates every department in the company. When it comes to a team environment, what affects one will affect everyone.
The most defining effect of a positive culture in a company shows up in its profits. The formula is always quite clear: happy employees produce great work and feel invested in the company, which will lead to a strong performance.
What Does Good Culture Look Like?
Great culture within an organization can be felt and is not quantified as easily as other performance measures (though there are some impressive strides in using ‘Culture By Design’ techniques to measure culture in a company).
Your employees have various facets in their lives that create their personality and drive their performance at work. A business environment that recognizes and embraces the differences in their workforce and celebrates them, is promoting the values of trust and transparency from the beginning, giving people the freedom to express their creativity at work.
Companies rarely use words like love and compassion, since they are inherently seen as weaknesses that employees could easily misuse. But empathic leaders often draw out the best from their teams that in turn, feel a sense of deep pride in their company and want to contribute to its excellence.
How Culture Can be Implemented in Your Company
While culture has been approached from the angle of personality tests, employee surveys and 360° performance assessments, they only scratch the surface when it comes to implementing culture in a company.
There are three key entry points to introduce culture in the workplace:
Culture starts with the C-suite, the top level executives of a company. These leaders are in the best position to show maturity and give the right kind of direction to create a company built on sound principles of compassion, listening and collaboration. Departmental heads down the line follow suit, helping to identify outliers to the company’s core values and sending them a strong message on the company’s priorities. We saw this happening in the last few years where an organization has taken a tough stand on an employee’s behavior when it doesn’t align with its values.
Companies that are built around the principles of ‘embrace, don’t enforce’ go on to grow into successful enterprises. They value every employee and their contribution to the department’s success. Hiring and partnership choices are based on shared values and not only the credentials on paper. While knowledge can be taught, strong morals need to come into an organization with the employee. A business that supports inclusiveness, diversity, and ‘team engagement with heart’ has everyone equally invested in contributing towards its success.
Continuous training and on-point new employee orientation practices are essential to building a culture with a growth mindset in a company, where mistakes are viewed positively and as part of the learning process. Hands-on conflict resolution assistance avoids the eventual pitfalls of a toxic environment where segments of employees feel unheard and uncared for (something we have seen coming to light in many companies during recent times). Recognizing that it is only natural for people to disagree, but making sure that meaningful discord finally leads to positive outcomes leads to a lack of office politics that come in the way of productive work flow.
Old ways treat the presence of a good organizational culture as a side angle to hardcore business practices. Instead, try to bring your company’s culture to the center of your operation, and watch the magic enfold. Good culture, in its essence, is like the air you breathe. You can’t always see it, but every organization needs it to succeed and thrive.