Company culture is a hot topic in business right now. It may not be a new phenomenon. But it is becoming increasingly important for businesses wanting to gain a competitive advantage. And it’s proving vital in attracting and retaining the best talent.
What is it? In a nutshell, company culture is the way a business lives and breathes. It’s all about values and behaviors. It’s not things and it’s not a strategy document imposed from the top down. It’s the companies vision and a whole lot more. Here are the top 7 reasons why company culture should be nurtured, not imposed.
1. Culture is like an ecosystem
A good company culture embodies a clear and compelling message about the business, its staff, and its products or services. Culture defines the values that sets a business apart from its competitors. Company culture can’t be copied. It’s not something that can be imposed.
Creating a strong company culture is a bit like nurturing an ecosystem. You need to water and feed it, give it enough light and consider every component of the system. Influencers at all levels need to work together. While culture does say a lot about ‘how things are done around here’ it has to be grown from the collective hearts and habits of everyone working in the business. Company culture requires a movement, not a mandate.
2. Culture is not things
Iconic tech powerhouses like Apple and Google may have given off the wrong impression about culture. Many businesses copy-catting the Silicon Valley focus on company culture wondered why their efforts failed when all they copied was the bean bags and pool tables. Perks are great. But, things are not culture. Culture isn’t a thing that can be bought and imposed.
3. Employees’ needs matter
People need nurturing. Things don’t. People need to feel engaged to perform at their best. They need to feel valued. They need autonomy. They need challenges. They need training, support, and feedback. All of these needs require delicate nurturing. Focusing on employee needs is a part of growing a strong culture and that can’t be established with a one-size fits all approach.
4. Culture attracts and retains talent
The best workplaces are sought out by the most talented employees. Staff needs to feel rewarded, motivated and engaged. Top performers also need different things from their employers. Cultivating a culture that celebrates difference and offers a variety of career opportunities and different strategies of support shows respect for individuality. Great company culture nurtures individuals. It doesn’t impose rules.
Interviewing has been turned on its head in recent years. Amazing candidates are interviewing businesses as prospective employers, not the other way around.
In a recent study on the best places to work in the US, employees reported that they love working in companies where there are clear career opportunities, where senior leadership communicate transparently with employees and where they feel valued.
Company fit is as important these days as job fit. From a recruitment perspective, this is extremely important. Business leaders need to select candidates that fit with the overall objectives and vision of the company.
5. There isn’t one ‘right kind’ of company culture
Every organization is different. Business leaders can’t force their employees to feel a certain way. What businesses can do is cultivate a culture that affects the behaviors of its employees. This can only be done through employee engagement. Employees can only grow and feel passionate about company vision if they feel part of something. This isn’t something that can be imposed.
Also read: How To Create A Culture Of Imperfection
6. One person can’t create a culture
Successful company culture requires all of its members to actively participate. A business can’t appoint a ‘culture tsar’ and leave them to create a culture. It’s not how company culture works. In fact, putting one person in charge of company culture is like saying a dictator is a democrat. One person can influence culture, but it takes the whole team to grow it.
7. Culture needs to bend in the breeze
Just like a strong crop of wheat, culture needs to be able to bend in the breeze. An imposed strategy just doesn’t work because it is too rigid. Strong business cultures aren’t fixed. Goals and strategies adapt in an inclusive way. When a company needs to shift in some way it is most successful when the whole business is a part of any requisite change. HR can’t change company culture by itself.
Meaningful relationships are at the heart of company culture. Employees need to understand company vision and be on board with it. Leaders need to engage with employees. That all requires nurture. It’s not something that can be imposed.
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