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Workplace Culture: The Key to Business Success
Discover how a workplace culture can give your company a competitive edge in performance. Learn how to create and maintain a strong culture from day one.
Workplace culture is a fundamental aspect of every company, and it is essential to recognize and nurture it, particularly when it comes to collaboration, from the very beginning. Unfortunately, many leaders and entrepreneurs overlook the importance of a collaborative workplace culture until they have made significant progress in the market. However, by prioritizing and fostering this culture from the outset, your company can enjoy substantial benefits right away.
What is Workplace Culture
The essence of workplace culture lies in the values, beliefs, behaviors, and practices that shape the social and psychological dynamics of an organization. It defines the "character" of the company and plays a crucial role in molding employee behavior, communication, and decision-making.
For startups and growing companies, a robust culture could be the edge they need to succeed. It can help them to attract and retain talented individuals, foster innovation and collaboration, and enhance overall performance. Moreover, a positive culture can increase employee satisfaction and engagement, which in turn, can lead to higher productivity and better customer service.
However, creating and nurturing a strong culture is no mean feat. It demands steadfast commitment and ongoing effort from leadership and all employees. It requires a profound understanding of the company's mission, vision, and values, as well as the needs and expectations of its workforce.
Workplace Culture Starts on Day 1
From day one, consciously striving to establish and maintain a robust, collaborative company culture should be a top priority. This is because such a culture can profoundly impact key business aspects, such as work execution, quality standards, inter-team handovers and processes, talent attraction and retention, and competitive advantage.
It's natural to find it challenging to define and quantify your company culture. Unlike tangible aspects of your business such as your product or platform, culture is not easily measurable or describable. But, don't worry. This article is designed to give you ideas on how to create a culture that is innovative, collaborative and emphasizes open communication.
Some Truths About Workplace Culture
Let's begin by discussing the fundamentals of creating a strong company culture in the early stages of a workplace culture. Let's cover key elements to focus on and common misconceptions to avoid:
- As your company grows, collaboration will organically change your culture
- Culture should not be confused with company mission, vision, and values
- Your workplace culture can give you tremendous competitive advantage
- Your culture can help you attract and retain the best talent
- Your workplace culture can positively influence your customer lifetime value
- An office dog, foosball table, dress code or cool wall art can amplify your culture positively, but these things only plaster cracks if you lack solid culture foundation
As your company progresses, your culture, particularly your collaborative culture, will naturally adapt, shifting with changing circumstances, goals, and opportunities. Hence, it's crucial to routinely assess and adjust your culture to ensure it consistently aligns with your business objectives.
Workplace Culture Attributes
As previously noted, the culture of a company can vary significantly across different types of organizations, from startups to scaleups to corporations. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy for creating the ideal company culture, and various models and methods exist. However, before delving into the different elements of culture, it's crucial to understand the four fundamental characteristics of any business culture:
Attribute 1: Shared
Culture is not an isolated concept, but rather it is a shared understanding. It shapes the behavior of individuals and groups and defines what is considered appropriate or inappropriate. In a business setting, this shared understanding allows for alignment towards common goals, collaboration among teams, and the sharing of knowledge and resources. This is especially important when working in a global context, where cultural differences can play a significant role in shaping business practices and interactions.
Furthermore, company culture is not only limited to the organization, it also encompasses the external environment, customers and vendors. The company culture shapes the way they interact with the company and the way the company interacts with them. A positive culture that values transparency, integrity and customer service can help create loyal customers and build trust with vendors. This can have a positive impact on the company's reputation and bottom line.
Attribute 2: Interpretation
This variation in interpretation of company culture can also lead to misunderstandings and miscommunications within the organization, especially when it comes to language proficiency. Employees from different backgrounds may not have the same level of proficiency in the language used in the workplace, leading to potential language barriers.
It is important for companies to ensure that all employees have access to resources and training to improve their language skills, as this can improve collaboration and overall understanding within the organization. Additionally, companies should be mindful of cultural differences and strive to create an inclusive workplace where all employees feel valued and respected, regardless of their background or language proficiency. By embracing diversity and promoting open communication, companies can create a culture that benefits everyone and leads to greater success.
Attribute 3: Sustainable
Culture is a long-term, enduring concept, not a fleeting trend. Positive elements of your culture will have a lasting impact on every aspect of your business for years to come. Research is showing an increasing correlation between startups that cultivate a culture of collaboration at their core and positive outcomes such as improved talent acquisition, retention, employee engagement, and competitive advantage.
Be sure to check out our blog post where we will delve deeper into the topic of how improving collaboration among employees can help overcome common reasons for startup failure.
Attribute 4: Implicit
While some companies explicitly link their culture to their brand and marketing, culture can also be implicit and operate autonomously. It is similar to breathing, you may not always be aware of it or have direct control over it, but it is always present and vital for your well-being. Employees and leadership teams naturally interact with the company culture in most aspects of their work, without following a specific culture playbook in mind. If they strive to help themselves, their colleagues, and customers be more successful in their daily tasks, then this is an example of implicit culture.
It's important to note that, unlike the explicit culture, implicit culture can be harder to measure or change, but it is still a powerful force that shapes the behavior of employees, the way they interact with each other, and the way they serve customers. It's often shaped by the company's history, values, and the personalities of its leaders and employees. Therefore, it's important for leaders to be aware of the implicit culture and take actions to align it with their company's goals and values.
4 Perspectives of Workplace Culture
In addition to the foundational elements of culture, it's crucial to consider the perspectives that shape the human aspect of your company's culture. These perspectives act as the beating heart, pulsing veins, and vital muscles and bones that allow your organization to adapt and evolve. Explicit aspects and perspectives of culture are like the skin, encompassing specific initiatives, the way leadership teams discuss culture, and catchy slogans that describe it. For example, if a leader speaks about a "High-Performance Sales Culture," this provides insight into the explicit aspects and perspectives of your company's culture.
To provide more context on the perspectives of culture, we've outlined some of the most common ones.
Entrepreneurial Workplace Culture
The blueprint of an entrepreneurial culture is when every individual in your startup feels fully engaged and laser focused on learning fast and adapting even faster. People initiate new activities that will benefit your company, take ownership of their work, and are willingly responsible for the outcomes. They have a heightened sense of emotional links to the company.
People that thrive in an entrepreneurial culture are those that are not afraid to take initiative and exhibit confidence in their decisions.
We often see early-stage companies transition from an Entrepreneurial Culture to a High-Performance Sales Culture when seeking to scale. However, startups that fail to scale are often those that prioritize a "push sell" mentality over fostering innovation and collaboration.
High-Performance Sales Workplace Culture
For any company considering terming your culture perspective as ‘High Performance Sales’ – proceed with caution.
Arguably, this culture is no longer fit for purpose. In the last 10 years we have experienced many evolution's in sales, marketing and buyer behaviours, yet still to this day, many organisations who adopt this culture perspective prioritise a ‘hard push’ sales mentality over and above the needs, wants and desires of the customer, which in turn creates no long term growth opportunities.
In my personal experience, organisations who put the ‘Closer(s)’ on the pedestal are typically the organisations who struggle most with sales and marketing alignment, suffer with talent burnout and high churn rates.
Innovative Workplace Culture
In today's era of advanced technology such as AI, self-driving cars, and big data, a culture of innovation is essential for the sustained success of many startups. However, a culture of innovation is not just about generating new ideas, it's also about the systems and processes put in place to bring those ideas to fruition.
When innovation is critical for your company's success, a diverse team with different personalities and strengths can help accelerate and optimize the idea-to-implementation process. Some team members may excel in the creative aspects of innovation, while others may be more skilled in executing the necessary processes.
A culture of innovation also tends to seamlessly become a central part of a company's overall perspective.
Collaborative Workplace Culture
Historically many organisations talk a good game about how collaboration drives innovation. But in reality when you look further into the foundations of how they are building collaborative cultures, there's not much substance behind all their talk.
Everyone loves a good brainstorming session, but applying this every once in a while doesn’t form a culture of collaboration. Neither does giving your team access to every collaboration tool on the market.
With that said, the effects on business that Covid has had, means that digital transformation, hybrid working, work from home or anywhere strategies have been fast tracked and collaboration technology plays a more important role in culture than ever before.
To establish a genuine Collaboration Culture, the key to success is to center on your employees, instill trust in them, provide opportunities for them to innovate, learn from failure, and succeed. Additionally, make information about the startup easily accessible and transparent, and intentionally design internal processes that prioritize collaboration in day-to-day operations.
Finally, measuring the ways and trends in which your teams collaborate and communicate is crucial. The power of team collaboration can greatly enhance productivity and employee engagement, and assist you in addressing common obstacles when defining your culture:
- Departments that operate in isolation or are in conflict with each other- Analyzing the communication and collaboration patterns of your teams will enable you to improve the driving force of your success: Your Employees.
- Employees who are aware of problems and potential solutions but are hesitant to share their ideas and speak up - Again, examining the communication and collaboration patterns of your teams will enable you to enhance the driving force of your success: Your Employees.
- Establishing continuous improvement processes as you scale - A culture of collaboration supports your startup as it grows, it enables your teams to acquire new skills and apply them effectively within your processes, it quickly identifies growth challenges and solutions to overcome them. A culture of collaboration is multi-faceted, adaptable, and provides a strong foundation for the driving force of your success: Your Employees.
Workplace culture is the set of values, beliefs, behaviors, and customs that shape an organization's social and psychological environment. It is the "personality" of a company and plays a crucial role in determining how employees behave, communicate, and make decisions. For growing companies, a strong culture can be a competitive advantage, helping to attract and retain top talent, foster innovation and collaboration, and improve overall performance.
Creating and maintaining a strong culture is not always easy and requires ongoing effort and commitment from leadership and all employees. It also requires a deep understanding of the company's mission, vision, and values, as well as the needs and expectations of employees.
From the very beginning, making a conscious effort to establish and maintain a strong company culture should be a top priority. This is because culture can have a significant impact on key aspects of your business, such as how work is done, attracting and retaining top talent, and providing a competitive advantage.
It's natural to find it challenging to define and quantify your company culture. But, this article is designed to give you ideas on how to create a culture that is innovative, collaborative, and emphasizes open communication.
If your company is using Slack or Google Workspace as part of your collaboration tools, you find out how understanding Slack Analytics and Google Calendar Analytics can enhance your company collaboration culture. We also offer complete company analytics solution for businesses who need 360 degree view into business their cross-team collaboration, productivity culture, and employee engagement.