Blog Articles

The Guide to Understanding Corporate Culture

Michael Gugel, CPO @ GoCo

by Michael Gugel, CPO @ GoCo - April 16th, 2016

To understand corporate culture is to recognize that what executives think is different than what employees think & to reconcile expectations and perceptions

A business's culture is vital to its success. Ignore culture and the workplace devolves into a toxic mess. But how does a manager avoid such an affliction on the business's culture? How does a manager purposefully create a culture that inspires people to do their best work? How does a manager lead a team that aligns with the intended culture?

In today's Work That Matters episode, John Childress, author, speaker and consultant, talks about the nuances and concepts that make understanding and creating a thriving culture so difficult.

Key to understanding culture is to recognize that what executives think impacts culture is different than what employees think. In the differences is the opportunity to reconcile expectations and perceptions, but it takes a willingness on both parts to find a common understanding about culture. For example, John shares a graph that shows that executives believe financial performance is the most impactful to company culture. Yet, for employees it's the least impactful. For those closest to the work, the biggest impact is open and candid communications followed by employee recognition and access to management.

The irony in the above is how little financial investment is needed for what employees believe most impacts culture. Insights and wisdom clearly rooted in years of experience helping organizations with purposeful culture building, John's book, Leverage, guides readers through many elements to understand how to positively shape and let grow a culture that yields desired business results.

Thoughts about Culture for Young Businesses to Articulate and Answer

  1. Decide the culture early, and decide why it's important to the success of the business.

  2. Ask, "What is going to be the impact of our behaviors on our marketplace?"

  3. Ask, "what behaviors do we need to deliver on our strategic endeavors?"

  4. Remember, your culture is not cast in stone. The business environment is dynamic. So, too, should your culture's ability to adapt and grow.

Quotes from John

  • "You get the culture you allow; you get the culture you ignore."

  • "There are hundred of coachable moments in a day [for a leader to leverage to reinforce the desired culture.]"

  • "A big part of culture is not inside the people, but in the business processes that codify how we do work."

  • "What is the economic value [of culture]? It's not just on the balance sheet, but also in the engagement of employees and attitudes . . ."

Providing continual feedback to your employees helps to build a wonderful company culture. Learn how GoCo can show you how to retain those employees with our 1-0n-1 performance management.