Corporate culture exists in every organization and can have a resounding impact on the success of a business. From an electrical company, tech start-up or retail store, the ultimate source of an organization’s culture is its founders. A strong organizational culture can guide individual decisions and help everyone work towards the same goals. As a business grows and evolves, change will be necessary and the ability to adapt as a team will make the transition smoother.
Culture performs a number of functions within an organization:
It has a boundary-defining role because it creates distinction between one organization and others.
It conveys a sense of identity to organization members.
It helps convey commitment to something larger than an individual's self-interest.
It enhances stability; it is the social glue that helps hold the organization together by providing appropriate standards for what employees should say and do.
It serves as a control mechanism that guides and shapes the attitudes and behaviour of employees, and helps them make sense of the organization.
An organization’s culture can be described as a large cruise ship of emotional energy. Challenging to change course once underway, it takes a strong captain to reach it's objective. By consciously indoctrinating and socializing team members, founders can greatly influence members to reach for goals that may be considered out of reach. Conversely it’s necessary to remember that the key factor of a corporation’s culture is the behaviour of the management team itself. Actions speak louder than words and team members inevitably assume the values and beliefs of their leaders.
Some effective methods to encourage positive behaviour relate to empowerment (reducing the number of approvals needed for decisions), collaboration (setting up easy ways to initiate joint projects), and defining processes (ensuring team members know what actions to take to succeed). An organization’s culture does not appear out of nowhere and once established, it rarely fades away.
Corporate culture is an elusive concept and is often taken for granted. New hires need to learn the unwritten rules if they want to be accepted as full fledged members. By continuing to engage with employees, ask questions and lead by example, founders can create and sustain a corporate culture that will inspire customers and employees alike.