A strong company culture is at the heart of every successful company. However, company culture is often misunderstood. As a Business Transformation Architect, I help companies build exceptional workplace cultures and I’ve heard quite a few culture myths over the years.
Here’s my top five compiled and busted!
Myth 1: Company culture can’t be created.
This what I typically hear at our first project scoping conversation.
Ask any leadership team of very successful companies and they will tell you that they have some sort of culture playbook that they created and are working off.
So yes, you can create the foundations to build a strong culture, unfortunately, most companies don’t know how.
It’s ironic that most businesses have an SOP for running their processes or systems. However, what they don’t have, is an SOP for running their company!
This SOP is a company culture playbook that starts with articulating your company DNA, your purpose, your values, indicates what exemplary behavior looks like, defines the benchmark of your product or service, how you treat your customers and finally how you live and manifest your culture every day.
Myth 2: Company culture isn’t a priority for a startup.
This can’t be further from the truth. Just ask Dharmesh Shah from Hubspot, Brian Chesky from Airbnb or Jeff Lawson from Twilio. The one thing they would have liked to get right in their early days, is their company culture.
This would have saved them a lot of grief down the line, by hiring the right people and aligning the team around the company strategic vision and the unique company values.
My advice? As a startup, every hour spent on articulating your culture in the early days will spare you a lot of anguish and grief later on.
Myth 3: Culture has no tangible impact on the bottom line
This couldn’t be further from the truth. When you have a strong culture, you have alignment around the strategic vision and company purpose. You have teams working in synch to meet the company objectives.
A strong culture also results in attracting and retaining top talent.
World-wide research done with millennials indicates that the number one priority for them is to join a company that has a good culture and offers them ‘meaningful’ work. A strong culture fuels passion in employees and drives engagement at work.
Your people are happier knowing that they are contributing towards something bigger than just ‘doing their job.’
This in turn, translates to higher productivity, fuels innovation, drives employee engagement and empowers your people to give their one hundred percent.
All these factors positively impact the company bottom line.
Myth 4: We have our company values, that’s our culture.
Most companies have these few common ‘value’ words on their company walls; Teamwork, Integrity, Fun, Respect, Honesty etc. etc. Sounds familiar? These so-called values are a today.
What we are talking about, are values that go deeper and define your culture and differentiate your business. You should also be able to hire people against your values.
For example, LinkedIn has “Act like an owner” as one of their values. This is about taking ownership and following through for the customer. You can test and hire people against this value, and this is what differentiates LinkedIn from other companies.
Another good value example is “Be bold and challenge the status quo.” This implies that the company values people who live outside their comfort zone and are not afraid to take risks. Again, you can hire against this value by asking relevant questions.
Spending time to formulate your deep company values that make you unique and form your belief system and your ‘hiring and firing guide, is time well spent. However, most companies don’t pay attention to this one critical factor that will play a significant role in determining the company culture.
Myth 5: Company culture is about having Margarita Mondays, Foosball tables, bean bags in the office and free buffet lunches
Although having a culture conducive workplace that fosters collaboration and creates ‘forced people collisions’ certainly helps, Company culture goes beyond the ‘freebies’ at work,
Culture is more to do with the mindset and heartset of your people and needs to be deeply rooted in the company value and belief system. A system that everyone agrees to abide by and religiously respect. This is what creates a strong company culture over time.
I’ll use the analogy here, of going to the gym. You don’t get fit overnight, but you know it’s good for you and you begin to see results slowly. Similarly, with culture, changing the mindset and heartset of your people doesn’t happen overnight.
You need to work at it, and over time you begin to see incremental changes in people’s attitude and the results begin to show up in performance and the company bottom line.
As a business leader, owner or founder, don’t ignore the one thing that can significantly move the needle for your business, drive the bottom line and position your business for long term success. Building a strong company culture should be your top priority.
For more information on how to build a great workplace culture that fuels passion in people, drives creativity and innovation and builds a company that employees love, customers adore, and the world admires, click on this link:
About the author
Ashok Miranda is a Business Transformation Architect and founder of Transform and Transcend, based in Singapore. He is the author of the book Culling Cuturitis: How To Rid Your Company Of This Toxic Disease and Build a Winning Company Culture.
Ashok is a much sought-after speaker, consultant and trainer and has transformed the mindset of thousands of businesses professionals across the region.
He is passionate about architecting a better business world by helping build purpose-driven companies with exceptional workplaces that foster happy and engaged employees. Ashok's areas of expertise encompass company culture transformation, deep branding and customer experience transformation.
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