Company culture is more important than ever

As staff feel isolated, teams have been separated, organisations need to consider people at the heart of every decision and the company culture it encourages and creates, needs to hold everything together.

What is company culture?

Company culture is about shared values and experience. The values which your organisation ‘says’ it holds is what it should be acting on and demonstrating. Likewise, the values should be common among your staff and if you asked “what does it feel like to work in your organisation?” there should be a common theme, relaying back to the organisation’s values. It’s how you make people feel, you need to be engaging on an emotional level.

I was on a webinar recently and the phrase “culture eats strategy for breakfast” was used. If you know me, you know I always put strategy before any tactics, so this made me stop and think. It’s right. Culture is created automatically (whether you’ve created it or not, it’s happening!).

Communities

If you think about staff and teams as your community, you’ll perhaps change your thinking about how you cultivate it and care for it. There’s a real sense of belonging. I see this as fitting into a stakeholder engagement strategy, as each stakeholder group is a community – they will have different challenges, see different opportunities, have different perceptions of the organisation. But if you think of them as communities rather than just different groups, you’ll think more of the emotional side of what they need. How can you make people feel safe, wanted, valued and important – not just a number?

HR is a fairly transactional department when it comes to culture, the hiring of the people etc but public relations has a huge job to help advise, manage or even change company culture. It’s about setting the right strategy, activity, message, tone and timing…

virtual communities

CEO legacy on company culture

One area PR professionals are called in to change culture, is when a new CEO takes over. The legacy the last CEO has left isn’t always a great thing and each CEO will want their own style of leadership to help inform the culture. But we must be wary that this kind of culture change cannot be changed over a short period of time. There is no silver bullet and each organisation will face its own challenges and indeed opportunities. CEOs last short term compare to culture change, which can take five to 10 years to change.

Don’t forget within these communities, that there will be peer to peer influence. Leadership needs to be strong. It needs to lead from the front and be seen to be walking the walk.

A new narrative needs to be carved with strong emotional hooks, linked to the values and heartstrings of the people. You need to bring the communities into the fold and the only way you can do that is talk in their language and talk about what they care about.

There will be conversations on social networks and it’s important that the organisation is there to be part of that. Monitor and listen too, you’ll pick up intelligence in every conversation.

Rituals are a big component about belonging and building communities and fostering a good culture. Friday drinks, events, meetings – many companies now have social committees who organise these activities, made up of different team members.

This kind of links back to building communities in general, but specifically focussing on culture is an element which needs to be considered in the overall strategy but needs to be monitored regularly. Your finger needs to be on the pulse.

planning and risk assessments

Stakeholder research and company culture

The kind of things I’d do to assist with company culture is research with the different stakeholder groups to gauge current perceptions internally and externally. The research findings will unearth new challenges, known challenges and potentially shine a light on new opportunities. I’d like to see a SWOT analysis being used too. Each organisation is different and although the principles apply, the time, approach to research and recommended strategy will be different.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my latest blog. I hope it’s helped you think about how your organisations culture has been shaped in the past and how it can be shaped going forward. People are at the heart of everything, don’t forget that.

Please do share this post if you think people in your own network will benefit from reading it. Now is a good time to be considering the above to adapt organisations to ‘the new world’.