A well-established corporate culture plays a significant role in the betterment of a company or organization; this intuitive fact is backed by many social science studies on the subject. Author and Professor James L. Heskett suggest that culture makes up 20-30% of the difference in workplace performance when comparing a company with a sound culture against one without it.
Exactly what makes up a corporate culture? They are all very unique in their own way and often have different belief systems in place. When considering various successful companies and their culture, there are several elements of similarity. Here are some of components to think about in building a well-established culture condensed from the HBR article “Six Components Of A Great Culture” along with some of our own case studies and experiences.
1. Vision: An outstanding culture is built upon the foundation of a well-developed vision and mission statement that provides a purpose. This blueprint effectively guides and directs all employees’ decisions. Deeply rooted and well thought out core mission statement not only shapes the decisions of the employees, they can also positively influence the decisions and actions of other involved stakeholders such as suppliers, and customers. Some very effective vision statements are such as The Alzheimer’s Association stating “a world without Alzheimer’s,” or Oxfam stating “a just world without poverty.”
2. Values: The values of a company are the meat and potatoes of its culture. The values offer a mindset, disciplines, and guidelines needed to effectively execute the vision statement; for example, McKinsey & Company has a concise list of values for their employees that help set the standards for colleague treatment, professionalism, and client customer service. Google’s set of values are grounded around the notion, “Don’t be evil,” and “ten things we know to be true.” While many companies have very different methods of implanting company values, they are all practically based on clients, professionalism, and employees. At the leading independent accounting firm Green Hasson Janks, collaboration is the foundation for their success. The company reinforces this with peer-based recognition around values of mentorship, team work, and client advocacy.
3. Practices: Values are obviously ineffective unless they are implementing in the practices of a company. If a company conveys that people are their greatest asset, it is apparent that there actions should mirror such a statement, such as investing in their employees in ways that are noticeable to all. The company known as Wegman’s brand themselves with values such as “caring” and “respect,” offering prospects “a job they’ll love.” By actually following through with the relative practices of values, it ranks fifth by Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For list. There are some instances where organizational values “flat” the chain of command. During these cases, junior level employees should be included in the resolution discussion without any fear of repercussions whatsoever. Company values should be visible through review material, promotional policy, and deeply embedded into day-to-day operations.
4. Peer Based Recognition: the employee recognition software like we offer on MeritShare is a great way to reinforce and enhance company values. Vungle, a San Francisco based mobile advertising firm funded by Google Ventures, uses persistence as one their primary company values. They created a custom MeritShare award called “The Honey Badger” which enables employees to nominate each other; at the end of each month, founder Zain Jaffer chooses a winner. In complete satisfactions, he states “I love how our team interacts on MeritShare. Our Honey Badge award is a great reinforcement of our values and a fun talking piece to show new recruits our unique culture.”
The above isn’t a complete isn’t meant to be a complete list so please offer your tips and experiences for building a great culture in the comments section below.