Article originally published on Huffington Post
Have you figured out the culture code in your company? I mean really… do you know what it is and why it’s important to embrace? For many companies, the culture code may not be any one system, thought process or approach. However, the company culture code that is dominant, whether it’s planned or not, will drive the ethos of how employees interact and how customers perceive the company. This can define how the business is portrayed in the market. Hmm… now you are probably seeing why intentionally establishing a culture is critically important.
One of the great things about being a seasoned veteran… (okay, someone that has lots of experience), is that we have first hand knowledge of what culture code is and why it’s so critical to the success of a company. If you’re fresh out of college and in your first job, you may see and even be trained on the importance of the company culture code. But if the company just lets it naturally flow, it won’t end up being what the leaders really want. Thus… “Whatever happens will happen”. Hmm… not a good plan.
“The best companies are deliberate about culture. They design it and defend it.” – Dharmesh Shah
When companies merge employees, processes, ideals, and even the company mantra together, one never knows what will be revealed. All of these together combine to create an exciting and unique set of experiences, expectations, skills and challenges. How is it possible to create a culture and define the code that makes it actually work? That’s the real magic executives face when creating a culture that drives business results. There’s no real secret sauce for this or algorithm that generates results every time. Some companies have been able to tap into the power of a corporate culture with unheralded success. Their businesses have gone to levels far beyond what was even expected by their executives.
What does culture code reveal in a company and how can business leaders tap into the so-called magic it produces?
“Culture code is an enabler that impacts how effectively a business gets work done at scale. In the absence of culture a business depends on a few individuals who are motivated to create desired results. With a strong culture code the probability of the entire organization operating like a rowing crew in harmony is much greater.” – Bernie Borges, Social Business Engine
Defining Culture and Cracking the Code
Defining a culture in business is very challenging. Cracking the culture code and living it out is downright impossible unless leaders and employees are constantly embracing it and modeling it day in and day out. In my opinion, it starts at the top. However, a key ingredient is in the searching for and onboarding of new employees. If this process is not done strategically with the explanation of the company culture code at the top of the list, your desired culture will dissolve in a matter of months. This can occur, especially if new employees are coming on board all the time, and at all levels of the company.
Here is a list of a few attributes I have experienced that are commonly used in creating successful corporate cultures. Does your company embody any of these? Hmm… maybe it should. The culture code could be revealed in any combination of these if you allow it to.
Values, Team, Innovative, Trust, Creativity, Atmosphere, Uniqueness, Visionaries, Intellectual, Empowerment, Collaboration, Customer Obsessed, Freedom to take risks, Change agents, Agile process, Technologically savvy, Entrepreneurially inquisitive, Fun place to work
Why Startups Have Culture Code Success
I’ve had the opportunity to work in and with many startups in my career. It’s an amazing opportunity that I could not have forecasted prior to diving in and working with them. The one thing that I learned from all of them is that culture is a huge part of how they operate and exist. In a startup, every person embodies the startup culture fully because they believe in the qualities and foundational attributes of it. It’s part of their DNA. That’s a large part of what makes the startup a huge success.
Culture is not a campaign or slogan, picture on the wall, or even the CEO touting what the culture is and promoting it at company meetings. Culture must be organic to every individual that is employed in the company. Culture must be the genesis of what makes each employee tick. What keeps employees awake at night? Hopefully it’s the culture code ticking inside them that keeps them vibrant, engaged and actively thinking about ways to raise the bar each and every day.