Since our launch in 2020 there has been a continued unwavering focus on creating a supportive and collaborative culture in support of our vision and values. We are aware that culture can make or break a company, and it’s vital organisations get it right. Our culture started on day one and we have had the subsequent challenge of maintaining and developing our culture through the growth and development of Bexley Beaumont. This led to our mantra of #GrowtheTeamKeeptheCulture. A daily reminder of the importance of keeping the focus on culture within the team.
Corporate culture has always existed but only really become a widespread point of discussion in the past 20 years or so. In more recent times, there has been criticism of overuse of the word whereas I believe there needs to be more focus on culture than ever before. In a post-covid world of hybrid working, there is less likely to be a default passive culture (both positive and negative) created by the water cooler moments and face to face contact which leads to an increased requirement for cultures to be actively set, embedded, and developed.
The term "corporate culture" developed in the early 1980s and became widely known by the 1990s. Corporate culture was used to describe the character of an organisation. It is the organisation’s personality, which defines the environment in which everyone works. A culture shapes how employees think, feel, and behave. It can be a positive or negative force in the workplace. It also impacts on client/customer engagement and retention as clients and customers look to suppliers whose culture aligns with their own culture.
The Harvard Business Review wrote an article identifying six important characteristics of successful corporate cultures:
• Vision – the culture starts with the vision guiding the organisation’s values and purpose
• Values – providing a set of guidelines on behaviours and mindset to achieve the vision.
• Practices – values need to be truly lived by everyone in an organisation and form part of the company’s practices and decisions.
• People – to build a strong culture starts with recruitment to ensure everyone is educated on and is willing to embrace the core values. The people in an organisation must reinforce and support the culture.
• Narrative – each organisation has its own unique story and identifying, developing and retelling that story is a key part of developing the culture.
• Place – historically “place” including the layout of the offices is a key component to creating and supporting the organisation’s culture with a focus on shared and open spaces for collaboration.
Many people have worked in businesses where the corporate culture was defined by default. Whilst there might have been the values on the walls in the offices and the senior leadership hosted sessions sharing the organisation’s culture, in reality, the culture in each office (and even within teams in each office) varied and was often starkly different than the culture the organisation promoted.
The culture needs to be based on a set of beliefs and behaviours that everyone is held accountable to and when embedded successfully will determine how everyone in an organisation interacts, makes decisions, and performs. It needs to impact all areas of the company including attracting and retaining talent, goal setting, performance, productivity and fundamentally in setting the organisation’s strategic goals at board level.
A strong positive company culture is indicative of a well-run and successful business. It can help attract the best employees, keep current employees satisfied and motivated, and foster a positive reputation in the community and among customers ultimately leading to sustainable growth and success of an organisation.