Whether your company has been around for 100 years, or you are still in the start-up phase, it is important to truly understand the culture that the company is built on. Company culture is not something that appears out of nowhere or that builds itself overtime. Rather, it is strategically created by leadership and then implemented throughout the entire organization.
As each company offers a unique set of products and services, it also has its own unique company culture. Among the countless, successful companies around the world, large and small, there are key components that are apparent throughout them all: vision, core values, practices, people, story, and environment.
Just as a home is built upon a strong foundation to help it stand tall and weather any storm, a company is built on a strong vision to provide longevity and success. Vision should be adopted throughout the entire organization to help guide a company’s core values, which brings us to the next key component.
Once the vision, or foundation, has been established, the company must outline the core values, just as a homebuilder adds framing to the concrete slab to give the house its shape. These core company values should provide a set of guidelines or expectations on what is needed to achieve the company’s overall vision. To achieve success, the entire organization must understand and abide by both the vision and core values.
The next four components are those that ‘fill the home’ – practices, people, story (narrative), and environment (place). All transactions and practices must align with and abide by the company’s vision and values. Furthermore, the people inside the business should also understand and have the willingness to embrace these values. When hiring new talent, it is important that the candidate understand and share the vision and values as well. The best leaders know that even though recruiting the right people requires a large investment of time, the ROI is completely worth it. Invest your time in those who will carry on your culture!
There is a unique story behind every company. It is powerful when this story can be shared throughout the company, further establishing the overall culture. Although companies evolve and change, the premise of ‘who they are’ and ‘what they stand for’ should forever be cherished.
The final component is: place. Whether it be the interior office space with high ceilings and open workspace that fosters collaboration, or the geographic location nearby other similar firms, place and environment help shape the overall company culture.
Let’s take a look at two of the most successful companies of our time and see how they embody the above components. You have all heard about the Zappos culture and know that it places a high priority on its customers, and furthermore its own people. Zappos understands that having the right people on board will lead to great customer service and overall culture. How about Southwest Airlines? The brand has been built on providing a great customer experience no matter what. The company has placed an emphasis on educating pilots, flight attendants, and employees alike on the company’s vision and values. Furthermore, the company allows them to go that extra mile to provide a great experience. This allows them to feel like they are part of a unified team and overall purpose.
Now that you better understand the meaning of company culture, what are your action steps?
- Vision – Define your company vision and mission. This is your company’s “why” statement. Does everyone on your sales team know the vision?
- Core Values – outline your team’s core values. Make a list. Or create an acronym. Display these values in your office. Make certain that the team agreed on the values and that they were not simply created independent of team member guidance!
- Practices – Practice what you preach (or hang on the wall) and model the behavior expected of your team members. Start today
- People – Analyze your current team members. Are they fit for your current culture? Are they a great fit for your team culture “of tomorrow”?
- Story – What is the story behind your company? Is it a story that can be shared by team members with prospects and customers? Does it showcase what you stand for? Does it exemplify who you are? Start telling your story more frequently. Or begin the creation of a new story.
- Place – Take a look at your current work environment. Does it align with the culture you are aiming to create? If not, what would you change? Make those changes.