Company’s Owners Define its Culture.
- Author: Eric Farr
- Essay Focus: Company Culture
- Expertise: Entrepreneurship, Investments, eBusiness, Leadership, Marketing Strategy
- Contact: BYUs Center for Entrepreneurship
We were having a lot of fun, though. Instead of paging we would often just yell across the hall to each other. Spontaneous “water cooler” chats in the lobby were frequent, and laughter between offices was a regular occurrence. Of course, it is good news that our company is growing. But we were beginning to trip over each other, and our lobby was looking like a storage room. It was clearly time to move.
So, move we did. In doing so we tripled our square footage, which has given us room to spread out a bit. My partner, John, and I were sitting in our new office (we choose to office together because it allows us to both stay privy to all facets of the business and, quite frankly, it is more fun that way), and we both realized that something had changed. The office was quieter. We didn’t see the employees nearly as often. The spontaneous lobby meetings were no longer happening. Indeed, the culture of our company seems to have changed ever so slightly.
Defining corporate culture can be difficult. Many academicians have spent careers studying and defining the term, which is why I don’t think I can do it justice within this short article. Ultimately, though, a company’s culture is determined by the attitudes, beliefs, values and “norms” of the organization and its employee base. In short, it is the personality of a company.
And if you haven’t thought much about your company’s personality, you probably should. In my experience, it is a major factor in keeping your employees happy, engaged, working hard and wanting to ensure corporate success. Indeed, studies show that many of today’s employees cite a good cultural fit as a more significant determinant of their job satisfaction than even salary.
At our company we try to promote a culture of integrity, hard work, fun and laughter while continually striving to beat expectations (both internally and externally). It shouldn’t be surprising that John and I also want to work within that type of environment. In fact, most studies agree that owners and senior managers have a profound effect on the culture of a company. As such, as a business owner, you should view yourself as the one responsible for defining your culture.
Culture is formed on both conscious and subconscious levels. Your behavior (how you act, the things you say, where you place priority and the way you react to certain issues) has a huge impact on your company’s culture. Employees see your behavior and will begin to emulate it, further solidifying the culture you are defining.
In reaction to a new, larger office, John and I recognize that we might have to do a few more things to ensure that we continue to promote the “fun and laughter” portion of our culture. For example, one recent office meeting included “cranking up” some music and having a spontaneous employee dance-off. Later we took the whole company to see a matinee to celebrate a successful conference in which we were involved. And we even have an arsenal of silly string that we plan on using in the near future.
Our employees enjoy the culture, and so do we. What is your company’s culture? Is it one in which employees will thrive, or are you creating a less-preferred culture without evening knowing it? If it needs to change, you, the business owner, are the one who has to do something about it.
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