I am blogging about 20 Questions that you need to answer in order to set your business focus, and make your company referral-ready. The first one was, What are your Company Strengths?, followed by, What is Your Company’s Domain Expertise? Then, we looked at Who Loves You? Now, let’s turn to…
Question #4 – What’s Your Company Culture?
Every business has a cultural core. Think of this as the unseen, but very real atmosphere of the company. It stems from the internal “wiring” and emphasis of the leadership (past and present). It’s like a natural perfume – not a spray-on, but an aroma that goes before you and surrounds you.
Some cultural characteristics are good, and some need counter-balance. Some, however, are downright unhealthy.
Characteristics such as these tend to shape the company environment:
- A domination versus collaboration mindset
- An emphasis on innovation versus process
- A short-term versus long-term mentality
- A reactive versus pro-active market approach
- A technical versus promotional instinct
- A stress on team versus individual performance
I realize that some of these are not complete dichotomies, but here’s the point: the leader/leaders of a company will have a particular makeup and perspective that will color the entire direction and decision-making process of the company. It will even influence who is hired – if there is not a clear cultural awareness among the leadership, there can be a tendency toward imbalanced self-reinforcement (hiring only people already like us).
A lot of awareness has been raised in recent years about how introverts can fit into corporate cultures, and this is a long-overdue discussion. We introverts have our own way of working, and that needs to be valued and encouraged.
But corporate culture issue goes beyond personal characteristics. Highly ethical people may find themselves very uncomfortable in certain work settings that emphasize “get it done!” over principle. People with a more nurturing and patient approach may be stepped on in a competitive, climb-the-ladder culture. Some companies thrive on creative informality; others on rigid process.
Having seen a bunch of mergers go down in the pharmaceutical industry – with very mixed results – I’ve often witnessed the clash of corporate cultures between companies. And I have often seen a cultural “mismatch” between a client company, and a potential supplier/vendor – two different corporate mentalities that just don’t mesh well. I’ve also seen people shuttle back and forth between large corporate environments and small, entrepreneurial companies – not everyone can make the adjustment (in either direction!)
You will not mesh with every corporate culture – and that’s OK.
I recently spent some time with a company that was….well, very soft-spoken. Humble. Caring. Southern, even. They’ve succeeded over the years, but marketing was not in their DNA. It’s a very comfortable and client-friendly culture, but some promotional “edge” was needed (and the leadership recognized it).
You have a company culture. It will impact who is attracted to your company (potential clients, employees, investors, partners). Are you aware of yours – can you sum it up in one or two sentences? It may end up being one of the keys for self-identification in your marketplace. People will refer you based on the “feel” of your company – and that’s all about culture.