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Let's Examine What Company Culture Really Is...

Companies often talk about the importance of corporate culture - but culture is such a broad term, and honestly it means a lot of different things to different people. One thing that I've experienced is the misalignment on the definition of culture between executives and their employees.

Is 'company culture' referring to the overall characteristics of an organization? Is it specific to values, goals, or even personalities? Is it tied into the environments in which we work in, the objectives of the firm, or maybe your corporate standards? Could culture be associated with expectations for not only what you do, but how you do it - implying that there is a strong ethics component in the culture that defines your organization?

Might company culture be a reflection of the values of the employee base and not just the executive teams?

Netflix has been admired for its company culture for years. Patty McCord, the longtime Chief Talent Officer, created the infamous document "Netflix Culture: Freedom and Responsibility". Netflix defines their culture in writing and specifically outlines the skills and behaviors that they value the most in employees. Netflix's values and how one aligns with them is part of what defines, "who gets rewarded or let go".

While Netflix might take a bold approach to defining their cultural expectations, isn't it wise to set expectations on what your company culture is, and to clearly communicate what is expected and what might be 'out of bounds'? The Netflix approach might be extreme, but it is eye-opening as they align their cultural expectations with professional growth opportunities or, well, termination.

Back to an earlier culture really is around how team members do the work that your firm performs. In the most basic of terms, culture can be established through communication norms. It's truly about behavior and the expectations that each employee has for not only one another, but (first and foremost) for themselves. As an employee, at any level, attitude and behavior must be in alignment with the cultural expectations that the firm sets.

Regarding culture, it should be be aligned with the values and beliefs of your organization - your ethos. We can assess your present environment and work with you to enhance what's working, heighten awareness on your firm's values, or chart the path for change to create clarity and a collective sense of norms specific to company culture. Culture and leadership are entwined, however every member of your firms should have an opportunity to help shape your culture. As Peter Drucker once said, "culture eats strategy for breakfast" and so it should be prioritized as a top commitment for any organization of any size.

conseri can help you get more from your team and from your organization with a strong mission that guides how you serve your clients and your people. Organizations that foster a healthy and present work culture, that is guided by a relevant mission and genuine engagement, chart their path to success with differentiation in their markets and also keep high-performing talent. We can help.

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