The culture of a company is an important part of who the company is and what they stand for. Generally a company’s culture develops over time from the traits of the people who work within an organization. How can company culture impact a business? In this chat for USA Manufacturing Hour on Twitter, Kelley Plats from North American Coating Laboratories in Ohio led a discussion about the impact of company culture on an organization.
Companies Known For Their Culture
The discussion began with participants sharing their thoughts on companies known for their culture.
Rebecca Prox from DSI/Dynamatic® in Wisconsin said, “Google. But only because it's always in the news.”
JD from Cleveland Deburring in Ohio said, “Chick Fil A for one. Google for another.”
Janice McKee from Burger & Brown Engineering, Inc. in Missouri said, “Aside from some local companies and those mentioned already, I'm drawing a blank.”
Host Plats said, “That's totally fine! Often culture and reputation go hand in hand. Other times culture is not top of mind for organizations. “
Gina Tabasso from MAGNET in Ohio said, “Google”
Adam Baker from Schooley Mitchell in Pennsylvania said, “Southwest, for sure.”
Dan Bigger from Optessa Inc in New Jersey said, “That is a great answer, Adam.”
He contributed his answer for companies known for their culture, “Apple.”
Manufacturers' News, Inc. in Illinois said, “First thought is of course Google!”
Host Plats said, “Great answer! They have a well-known culture and they make sure its easy to find...its like they're search expert or something?”
Manufacturers' News, Inc. said, “Lol! Yes!”
Ruby Rusine from Social Success Marketing in California said, “I am thinking local. There is a restaurant here in our area that is known for being supportive to other businesses including competitors. They also help the community, A LOT.” She added an additional company known for its culture, “Adobe.”
Host Plats contributed, “Nordstrom!”
Defining Company Culture
The chat continued with participants sharing how they define Company or Corporate Culture. Everyone had opinions about ways they define company culture.
Dave Meyer from BizzyWeb in Minnesota said, “Company culture is the glue that holds your team together - your shared "shorthand" and the rules of the game you're all playing together.”
Bigger said, “I define it as the way the company treats their employees and is open to guidance from them. It is a culture of openness where are all welcome to speak and think to grow the company.”
Prox said, “Culture is a lot of things rolled into one feeling. Are you a person or a number? Are there things in place such as work-life balance? Are there perks unique to the company? How are you customers treated? How are difficulties handled. All of that makes up culture.”
Bigger said, “Nice answer, Rebecca.”
Tabasso said, “I define company culture by the atmosphere and environment. How you "feel" being in that place and working with those people. How they treat you. How they value you.”
Baker said, “The way work gets done when none of the leadership is around.”
Whitney Koch from Welker, Inc. in Texas said, “I like that answer! What happens while “the cat’s away”?”
Host Plats said, “That's a great answer! Culture drives activity!”
Manufacturers' News, Inc. said, “A unique group quality and spirit that develops over time from the rituals, events, interactions, etc in a given organization.”
Rusine said, “Company culture is the shared values and behaviors that guide how employees interact with each other. It's the accepted norms in a corporation.”
She added, “Company culture is generally described as shared values, beliefs & behaviors that guide how employees in a company think, act, & interact with each other. Often shaped by the company's leaders & employees. It can be a major factor in determining a company's success or failure.”
McKee said, “Culture is what guides us in interactions with all customers internal and external.”
Manufacturers' News, Inc. said, “A unique group quality and spirit that develops over time from the rituals, events, interactions, etc in a given organization.”
Nigel T Packer from PelaTis Online in Wales, United Kingdom said, “By the way they treat their stakeholders, employees, customers, suppliers and the communities they are located in. Not by what they say in their PR, but the actions they are seen to be doing.”
Host Plats said, “Yes! This right here! Its not about what you tell people. Culture is all about what you show people!”
Koch said, “This is great! I think company culture is an extension of each individual’s integrity and behavior. And they can influence each other-for better or worse.”
Baker said, “Whatever we were focusing on - safety, reliability, financials - we could always get a pulse on the culture by looking at what happened on night shift.”
Thiam Mékà de Goguenheim from TMG-NATEXO.Orion in Cameroon said, “Company or corporate culture is defined as a set of values, expectations, and practices that guide your team each day.”
Pavel Stepanov from VirtuDesk said, “Company Culture refers to your practices and the behavior of your employees.”
Host Plats said, “Company culture is the beliefs and behaviors that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.”
She added, “Its implied, not outwardly defined and develops organically over time from the cumulative traits of the employees.”
Understanding Your Company’s Culture
The discussion continued with participants adding what they think are the two factors that can help a person understand a company’s culture. Everyone shared their opinions on the factors that contribute to this understanding.
Bigger said, “How do they handle failure? Are they open to new ideas?”
Meyer said, “What your team says about you and what others say about you.”
McKee said, “It seems like there are more than 2, but leadership interaction with staff leadership interaction with customers company policies in general what activities are supported in the community.”
Baker said, “I struggled limiting to two as well, but leadership and staff interactions is a huge indicator in my opinion.”
Tabasso said, “Tenure of employees and turnover.”
Prox said, “Goals and values of the company?”
Rusine said, “Core values and vision of the company.”
Koch said, “The company’s mission & vision and how they are carried out.”
Packer said, “As an employee you can learn and read about it in your induction manual. If you really want to understand it you have to live it.”
Thiam Mékà de Goguenheim said, “Mission, and shared/living values: businesses need step up to the plate when it comes to living its values, not just having them emblazoned on an office wall or buried in promotional brochure.”
Host Plats shared her thoughts on the factors responsible for helping a person understand a company’s culture. She outlined the factors and included a lot of helpful information on the topic.
People Interactions – Does the culture lean more toward community and collaboration or autonomy and competition?
Response to Change – Does the culture lean more toward consistency or flexibility.
The fundamental insight gained from these factors help define 8 culture styles that apply to both leaders and organizations.
- Caring – Focused on relationships and trust. Warm, collaborative environments.
- Purpose – Focused on idealism and altruism. Compassionate and tolerant environments geared to serving greater cause.
- Learning – Focused on exploration and creativity. Open-minded and inventive environments. Employees united by curiosity.
- Enjoyment – Focused on fun and excitement. Lighthearted and happy environments. Employees united by playfulness and humor.
- Results – Focused on achievement and winning. Outcome oriented environments. Employees united by drive for success and accomplishment.
- Authority – Focused on strength and decisiveness. Competitive environments. Employees united by strong control from leadership.
- Safety – Focused on planning and preparedness. Predictable and risk-conscious environments. Employees united by desire to feel protected and manage change.
- Order – Focused on respect and structure. Methodical and rule following environments. Employees united by cooperation with shared procedures.
Links Between Company Culture and Outcomes
The participants then shared how they think company culture and outcomes are linked. A lot of interesting thoughts were shared.
Rusine said, “A positive company culture is associated with higher employee productivity, reduced staff turnover, and higher profits.” She continued, “There is a strong correlation between company culture and company outcomes. Good company culture leads to better performance and happier employees, while bad company culture can lead to lower morale, decreased productivity, and even employee turnover.”
Baker said, “Company culture really drives the "why" behind the work. A weak "why" leads to weak outcomes.”
Koch said, “Directly! A company with a poor culture cannot have sustainable positive outcomes.”
Charli K Matthews from Empowering Pumps and Equipment in Alabama said, “People perform better when they feel they are valued within the organization. This will happen when the culture aligns with their values.”
Bigger said, “Great answer, Charli.”
Tabasso said, “Happiness has a direct correlation to productivity and retention/loyalty.”
Bigger said, “Interesting question. I should have cheated this week. I'd say that company culture has a lot to say about the outcomes. An open culture where it is a team rowing in the same direction should get better results than one that is not.”
Koch said, “That’s where having a defined mission & vision can really help! It makes sure people are indeed rowing in the same direction.”
Bigger said, “Well, I haven't seen it in my career yet. I'll let you know when I do.”
Koch said, “In your experience, what has helped keep people rowing in the same direction?
Meyer said, “Clear, compassionate leadership. "Row, row row your boat, gently down the stream, get you a leader, a real team feeder, and life will be a dream".”
Bigger said, “Unification against leadership. It's not a great answer, but it is what I have seen. Sad but true.”
Koch said, “I think that describes a lot of company cultures, unfortunately.”
Prox said, “If company culture is good for the whole, then productivity is generally better. Outcomes are good, too!”
Meyer said, “Culture and outcomes are linked like handcuffs - your outcomes are a direct result of your company culture. Pushing outcomes that don't match your culture (or trying to battle a negative/unproductive culture) is like swimming upstream, or herding cats.”
Thiam Mékà de Goguenheim said, “Stemmed on its Purpose, the culture influences the nature of the long-term goals that move the company toward its Vision while dictating the policies enable the company to live its Mission every day. Under this umbrella, business success becomes inevitable.”
Packer said, “Length of service will change the perception of company culture as the employee progresses in their career journey. Often overlooked when promoting someone to higher positions. How will it be handled by the employee and the company?”
Brash Inc in Canada said, “Inextricably! Workculture dictates how people approach anything + sets the tone for everything. Ex- a culture of learning and allowing people to make mistakes/think outside the box, you'll have outcomes of people willing to take risks, be innovative + creative!”
Host Plats shared, “When the culture is aligned with overall corporate strategy and leadership, it helps drive positive organizational outcomes. When culture is not aligned with strategy and leadership, it limits your organizations opportunities for positive outcomes. “
She continued, “Each industry and company is a bit different and will need to look closely at their goals and determine if their culture style aligns.”
She added, “The strength of the culture is also a factor in the relationship between Corporate Culture and outcomes. A strong culture that is not aligned with corporate strategy can be a liability to desired outcomes.”
Improving Performance with Culture Change
Participants were challenged to come up with steps a leader can take to improve performance utilizing culture change. The discussion also centered around who would partner with leaders in to implement performance improvement using culture change.
Rusine said, “The leader can get feedback from the employees. The leader's partner here is definitely the subordinates/ team members.”
Baker said, “Assess the current culture, find out what isn't working and what is, and work as a team with both their employees and their leadership to change the culture.”
Koch said, “And then follow up / act on the feedback! Asking for feedback to then do nothing with the information can have a negative impact.”
Bigger said, “Amen, Whitney.”
Tabasso said, “Lead by example, be empathetic, flexible and have the confidence not to be intimidated by high-performing employees, raise them up and support them, be responsive; everyone is their partner.”
Mckee said, “Our President gathered leaders from different departments to help put words to the culture that was in place.
Bigger said, “That is a wise leader.”
He added, “Listen to their employees. Employees have great ideas and if leadership is open to them it can change and enhance culture. Everyone is a partner in a good culture.”
Host Plats said, “Including employees at all levels is key! Your company's culture is a blend of EVERYONE, not just leadership!”
Prox said, “Leaders can instill team-building activities, encourage community participation, consider relaxed dress codes, allow work-life balance options, pay appropriately, etc. Our culture is relaxed, family-oriented, with a heavy customer focus. We take care of people.”
Buglino said, “Know where you are starting from to know where you need to go. Poll your employees, all of them, and get a majority response.”
Host Plats said, “First step is to know where you are and where you want to be. Can't do anything until you know that!”
Meyer said, “Clear communication & shared vision are key. Leaders set direction, but it needs to resonate with the team. Leaders must hold themselves AND their teams accountable for results. Insist on integrity. As for partners - the team of course, but coaching & boards help.”
Packer said, “Get buy in from all stakeholders. Get them to contribute to the cultural changes. If they have skin in the game they will make it happen.”
THIAM MÉKÀ de GOGUENHEIM said, “Clarify & Communicate the Purpose, Values, Mission, Vision & Strategy of the company Reinforce & growth mindset that motivates employees to work more productively Encourage Open Communication that builds trust & transparency Promote transparent feedback.”
Manufacturers' News, Inc. said, “1. Listen/observe to what team members are saying and experiencing 2. Asses company culture's role in performance. 3. Encourage dialog with team members on positive changes that can be made.”
Host Plats said, “While there is not a one size fits all approach to culture change, but leaders have excellent partners in HR, executive teams, and even the creation of culture teams made up of individuals representing all levels of the organization.”
She added a simplified plan for culture shift:
- Articulate the aspiration – Answer the BIG questions. What do you want your culture to focus on? For example, if you are in a rapidly changing industry, you may want your culture to focus on learning and results.
- Develop leaders who are aligned with your desired culture – leaders who have ‘buy in’ are the best change agents for organizational culture change
- Use Conversation about Culture to Share the Importance of Change – use the current framework to discuss the desired culture style and emphasize the benefits of change
- Reinforce the desire for change through organizational design – Shifting processes and training methods can support the desired change in culture.
Favorite Company Culture Buzzwords
The discussion wrapped up with participants sharing their favorite company culture buzzwords.
Bigger said, “Farfegnugen.”
Buglino said, “Family.”
Host Plats said, “Just like the Olive Garden, when you're here, you're family!”
Prox said, “Inclusive is my favorite culture word.”
Mckee said, "Stakeholders"
Tabasso said, “I can't stand buzzwords.”
Bigger said, “Here is one for you, Gina. BUZZWORD.”
Meyer said, “I'm partial to one of ours at my company- "Collaboractive." We take an active role in our client successes, collaboratively.”
Baker said, “Nimble - one it's a fun word, but two, I think it really tells me a lot about how they operate and what to expect.”
Host Plats shared her buzzword contribution, “It doesn’t feel like work, it feels like a party!”
How leaders choose to utilize company culture within their organization can be the difference between successful employees and disconnected ones. Understanding company culture and how it affects employees within an organization can be a game changer in driving positive organizational outcomes.
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