Here's How Company Culture Can Work for Any Business

Business.com / Strategy / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Is your business putting enough effort into company culture?

I recently wrote about the 10 best ways to build company culture. And that topic has been on my mind ever since.

You can compare it to the attitude of employees; it is a decisive factor in the success or failure of a business. Company culture determines adaptability.

A company culture that pushes pivoting in the face of marketing shifts and embraces new technology and strategies without abandoning what already works is a strong player.

The future is already here; is the organizational attitude of your outfit preparing for it?

Can Your Company Take It?

Your company needs an occasional stress test; how is it standing up to the digital transformation that just keeps happening? Is management able to adapt to the newer power shifts that go from peer to peer, instead of from top to bottom? Information sharing is now so facile that it has leveled the playing field in all but the most hidebound organizations.

An undesirable company culture is one that stifles initiative at any and all levels. “You’re not paid to think” is the death knell of progress and efficiency. To embrace the continuing digital transformation is to set aside traditional company roles and help each other adapt to change. This can be done as teams, or as individuals working with other individuals to stamp out the risk-averse mindset. Here’s a checklist of relics that are best left behind in the brave new world of technology and information sharing:

Related Article: Make It Great: Company Culture Tips From the Best Places to Work

Sluggish Decision-Making

Office politics or inefficient communication; it doesn’t matter. Each employee must be trained and encouraged to think on their feet, not wait for someone else to think of something for them to do.

Anemic ROI

Don’t let the C-suite or stakeholders lose faith in the company’s vision by inaccurate or secretive return on investment measurements. Transparency shows everyone that you’ve got something to be proud of.

Astigmatism Instead of Focus

Corporate tunnel vision fossilizes initiative and adaptability. As the old saying has it: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Keep expanding your list of options especially when it comes to technology. I recently asked the founder of Express-Glasses (staying with the vision analogy) how he keeps his team focused. “It’s all about giving my team the ability to do their job without someone breathing down their neck”, he said. “We have the fastest shipping time in our industry, and keeping that system operating at peak efficiency is critical.”

Anxiety

If managers at the senior level fear they are losing control of company functions at a basic level, it impacts every decision for the worse. Cautious optimism and trust is always the best management style. And the best company culture. Can you honestly say that none of the above is a problem in your business?

Related Article:The 10 Best Ways To Build Company Culture

Set Goals for Business Adaptability

After assessing weak spots, start your journey to commercial agility through setting up an adaptability goal. Your company culture should be a useful tool for this, not an anchor keeping you back. A toxic business culture is one that discourages goal achievement in a timely manner, that encourages excuses and delay. That gathers power in the hands of a few, leaving the rest to wait around for their marching orders in a listless or surly manner.

Discourage Office Politics

Replace it with a keen sense of shared purpose and vision. Everyone from the top to the bottom moves in the same direction, no matter what personality or other differences there may be. When everyone truly believes they are in the same boat, pulling the same way, your business ship inevitably makes progress.

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

As FDR famously said: “There is nothing to fear but fear itself.” When staff feels free to work on their own decisions a lot of good can occur. Priorities are discovered and exploited. Innovation occurs. Fear of lost control holds you back; let it go and trust your colleagues and staff to move forward with you.

Get Your Head Out of the Sand

Look around. What are other companies doing, what are your competitors doing, that is succeeding? Closing your eyes to the outside world is a surefire way of losing track of your ROI and disappointing your stakeholders. Adopt, then adapt.

Share the Decision-Making

Productive employees have a sense of autonomy. They know their ideas are part of the planning process, are being taken into account. They can speak their mind without being shot down by centralized decision-makers. No general in his or her right mind disregards what the troops at the front have to say about conditions when planning strategies and campaigns.

Related Article: What Do a Company’s Core Values Say About Its Culture?

To sum up, your company culture has to be one that requires involvement and commitment on every level of your organization. Build up the positives of your company culture, and stamp out the negatives.

You’re not in business to help people fail or brands disappear; your goal is always to build up, to encourage others to look beyond the narrow confines of tradition and fear. To keep pace with your competitors, and to run ahead of them, keep your people, and your corporate culture, a living and vibrant thing that acts as an engine of success not a swamp of timid, has-been notions.

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