“Corporate Culture” The Important Glue That Makes Companies Successful


Elements Required for an Effective Company Culture

What is Corporate Culture?

The company culture comprises everything that makes up the corporation. The culture, or corporate personality, gives the company a unique identity that distinguishes it from other businesses with the same or similar products. In short, the culture can be defined as “why we do things around here the way we do them”.

The question is how does one create, or change, a culture to move from failure or mediocrity to success?

Employee collaboration and involvement is the key. Employees need to know their values are a part of the company’s culture; managers must consider this and learn to encourage collaboration in the development of organization processes.

Role of Senior Management

Senior management must identify the major corporate values, behaviors, attitudes and behaviors required for business success in their own competitive market…as well as model the same to their employees and the external world to ensure congruency.

Another component of corporate culture is a senior leadership that allows and encourages change; that tolerates mistakes as part of the transformation process.

In order for a company’s culture to be maintained and enhanced, selection criteria for appointment to managerial and leadership jobs should be aligned with the cultural values espoused by senior management.

Benefits of a Successful Corporate Culture

Success Factors for a Company Culture

  • Basic beliefs and values that will drive the business.

  • Thinking outside the box and creative patterns that involve organizational structure.

  • Management processes and systems.

  • Education, training and development of management and employees.

  • Goal setting and appraisals.

  • Reward systems.

  • Information and knowledge on global environment and competitors.

  • Effective and open communication and behaviors exhibited by all.

Employees Take Cues from Company Culture

  • Corporate culture helps set ethical standards for employees.

  • Culture consists of an underlying set of assumptions, beliefs, and rules for behavior applicable to all aspects of organizational life.

  • These assumptions are so fundamental that they are rarely documented or articulated, yet they can significantly influence employee behavior and differentiate one company from the next.

  • Employees tend to resist accountability out of fear of failure and/or blame. A strong leader, however, can inspire workers to embrace accountability by himself/herself exhibiting proper behavior and willingly being held accountable.

  • A behavior-based company culture requires that managers get to know their employees and understand what motivates them to perform well.

Company Culture for Women

Women define success in the business world through values, corporate culture, and balance between work and family; men define success by status, influence, profits and market share.

Senior female leaders find game-playing to be an unappealing aspect of a corporate culture that doesn’t value both male and female skills.

Company cultures must support the use of flexible work arrangements as an effective tool to help women advance in the workplace.

It is vital that companies recognize and acknowledge gender differences and encourage open discussion around the issues involved.

Companies can best appeal to top-level female leaders by emphasizing a sophisticated approach to training and development and by rewarding relationship building, communication skills, and team-building.

How to Change a Company’s Culture

To create a corporate culture that has “entrepreneurial energy and passion,” managers should encourage employees to take thoughtful and prudent risks. Praise and listening are also necessary, as are discussions about the lessons learned from failures…what works and what doesn’t.

Mergers and acquisitions are especially difficult because they involve multiple variables that include history, employees, products, internal systems, and business processes. Merging the different corporate cultures can present the greatest challenge, so it is important for each company to understand and practice within the framework of its own cultural values.

Culture and Diversity Policies

Research tells us that companies that align diversity policies with business goals enjoy greater success. Respecting cultural and ethnic differences can enhance employee confidence and commitment levels.

The modern company has in its workforce many different subcultures that managers need to consider…language, religion, ethnicity, individual values and personal motivators, skills and experiences etc.

Major Reasons why Corporate Culture is so difficult to change

  • The culture of an organization is its DNA!

  • An organization’s culture is deeply embedded in the system and is therefore extremely difficult to change.

  • Changing an Organization’s culture is one of the most difficult leadership challenges. That’s because an organization’s culture comprises an interlocking set of goals, roles, processes, values, communications practices, attitudes and assumptions.

  • Culture determines how everything else in the organization is done.

  • The organization and its culture are tied together and are interdependent: the organization, its design and strategies influence its overall culture and vice versa.

  • An organization’s culture reflects its deepest values and beliefs. Trying to change it can call into question everything the organization holds dear, often without that conscious intention.

  • The culture of an organization is embedded in the entire organizational system. Each little change affects every layer of that system.

  • Organizational culture evolves over time. An organization’s identity is based on its culture, which is deeply linked to its history and development.

About the Expert

Dr. Karl Larson

International Trainer | Coach | Consultant

Dr. Karl Larson brings to his clients over 40 years of professional experience from the fields of international consulting, corporate management, retained executive search, executive outplacement and higher education. For many years he owned and operated his own international consulting firm with offices in Houston, New York, Los Angeles, Manila, Singapore and Sydney. He has had extensive living periods while serving clients in the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Holland, the Philippines, the Balkans-Macedonia, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

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