Designing your better corporate culture

A strong and adaptive ownership culture will often lend an organisation a powerful, competitive edge. Here are 10 reasons why your organisation can benefit from designing a better corporate culture:

  1. Leadership is critical in setting out and maintaining your organisational purpose, your values and your vision. As a leader, you must set the example by living the culture (values, behaviours, measures and actions). Whatever values you have in place are meaningless without the other elements.
  1. Like anything worthwhile, culture is something in which you invest. An organisation’s norms and values aren’t formed through speeches but instead through actions and learning as a team. Strong cultures have good foundations and are much more than just slogans and empty promises. Some organisations choose to part ways with leaders who don’t manage according to the values and behaviours that other employees embrace. Others accomplish the same objective more positively. Our recent blog post ‘Who are your role models’ explores this in more detail.
  1. Employees at all levels within your company will notice and validate the elements of your corporate culture. They will judge every management decision to hire, reward, promote and fire colleagues. Their reactions will often come through in comments about subjects such as the “fairness of my boss.” The underlying theme in such conversations, though, is the strength and appropriateness of your organisation’s culture.
  1. Creating a clearly defined corporate culture will benefit your organisation’s staffing costs because:
  • They often become better places to work.
  • They become well known among prospective employees.
  • The level of ownership—referral rates and ideas for improving the business of existing employees—is often high.
  • The screening process is simplified, because employees tend to refer acquaintances who behave like them.
  • The pool of prospective employees grows.
  • The cost of selecting among many applicants is offset by cost savings as prospective employees sort themselves into and out of consideration for jobs.
  • This self-selection process reduces the number of mismatches among any new hires.
  1. Not only will your company enjoy greater employee loyalty from a defined corporate culture but customer loyalty will improve too. This is in large part because it can be effective in either altering ineffective behaviours or allowing you to identify those employees who don’t buy into your company’s values.
  1. Having an operating strategy based on a strong, effective culture means you can be selective in your customer base. It also requires the periodic ‘weeding out’ of customers whose culture doesn’t fit yours. This strategy is especially important when customers “abuse” employees or make unreasonable demands on them.
  1. As a result of all this, you will have ‘the best serving the best’.
  1. Ensure you build a process of reappraisal into your organisation’s operating strategy so that you leave room for change. High-performing organisations will revisit their core values and associated behaviours from time to time. Furthermore, they often subscribe to some kind of initiative that requires constant benchmarking and searching for best practices both inside and outside the organisation.
  1. If you have a strong corporate culture, it encourages effective succession in your leadership ranks. In large part, your culture will then both prepare successors and ease the transition.
  1. A corporate culture can sometimes turn in on itself and be a victim of its own success. Be aware of triggers that can lead to a culture going sour, such as the failure in you, as a leader, to reinforce desired behaviours, the breakdown of consistent communication and being overcome by your own sense of importance.

We can see that there is a pattern in the actions and activities involved in developing strong and adaptive ownership cultures. When your organisation consistently builds and reinforces such a culture, it will give you a competitive edge that is hard to match.

Let us know if you agree! Do leave a comment or contact us on 01865 881056.

Thanks to The Ownership Quotient: Putting the Service Profit Chain to Work for Unbeatable Competitive Advantage (Harvard Business Press, 2008) for inspiration.