Company culture is a tough thing to write about.
Every company has a culture, whether it was purposefully directed or not. Sometimes the work personalities of the people that are hired dictate a direction. Sometimes the nature of the work dictates a direction. Then there is everything else, even down to how the office space is divided between teams.
Culture is something you want to be glowing from your company that attracts the type of people who are wanted on the team. As you can imagine, the US Marine Corp is going to cultivate a culture that is different from a web design studio.
So, herein lies the quandary.
What culture does the company want and need — what kind of culture will help the company succeed? Without a definite culture direction, the culture forms from non-direction.
Usually, non-directed culture means everyone makes his own environment.
This non-directed culture is dangerous. Though it looks like you are giving everyone liberty and therefore, happiness, it does not end that way. In the end, humans will generally take too much liberty, which does not end with a successful company and, in turn, does not make most people happy.
There must be a culture vision within a company of any size.
If the culture is not directed, it will end with everyone creating his own culture, which is deadly to company success.
Later, I will write on how to create and/or change the culture direction within a company.
“Culture drives great results.” - Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric
Without a healthy culture, a company’s performance and a company’s brand suffer. Without a clear culture, departments, employees, managers, and even business owners feel isolated and lacking in vision and purpose.
I believe that a company culture's source code is vision and purpose.
The reason a company might be lacking a cultural identity is that this “source code” is deeply embedded into the operational fabric of a business, leading the charge for the employees, and influencing and affecting the results of their behavior at the organization.
When we set out to build AIE, we had a vision for becoming IBM-like in style and ambition, and Marine-like in our systems and structure.
We wanted to disrupt the marketplace of the thought that technology was a trade formed by a bunch of IT geeks. We wanted to impact each organization we touched with ever increasing improvement in their technology investments. And, we wanted to do so in such a way that we actually made a tangible difference in our clients’ businesses by helping them leverage their technology infrastructure to be an asset, and not a liability, for driving their business forward.
In order to do this, AIE was founded on the idea that our customers would benefit from a plan for internally growing our employees.
We wanted to offer a measure of autonomy in our work environment, while encouraging employees to master a technical aptitude that can be leveraged for opportunity and profit within our company. And, ultimately we would commit to finding balance while serving our clients through a correctly prioritized outlook in life of God, family and work. In the end, I believed if we hire and breed a trustworthy, happy and competent staff, we would have the bedrock for growing a great company that benefits our customers and provides a satisfying and sustainable work environment.
Does the culture reflect the vision and purpose? Just ask your employees.
A good litmus test for company culture would be to ask, “what is it like to work here?” You (I) might find out some answers to questions that we don’t want to know.
At AIE, there have been many challenges that have disrupted our goals for establishing a consistent manifestation of our culture along the way. Like wedding vows—for better or worse, for richer or poorer— the vision and purpose of company culture are words that cost little to say, and will cost you everything to prove out in life.
I find myself reaching for the vows of vision and purpose that are influencing AIE’s culture.
If your company’s culture lacks a clear, healthy culture, pause and reflect on what you can do to realign—or revamp—the culture within. Maybe a renewal of your vows is what is needed. As one contributor at Forbes.com said, spark a movement, or declare a manifesto.
Get rid of the old, and usher in a new cultural identity within your organization capable of inspiring your employees and yourself—as it is guaranteed to bring forth a sense of unity and commitment to change—for the better!