The Importance of Culture in Growing Organizations: Part 2
Last time we looked at company culture, we discussed how leaders have a direct impact on their organizations. This time, we’ll review other factors that influence how a company’s tribe will perform.
To review: “Culture is defined as a recognized set of principles, beliefs, shared attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterize a group, population, tribe, organization, community or company. It’s your people and how they act inside your organization.”
Stress to Succeed
Stress is a part of everyday life and is considered harmful if not alleviated. There is good stress – that which sharpens our thinking and brings a sense of urgency to the problem. In short, focused bursts, controlled stress can lead to success when organizations stayed focused on their vision. People typically react well when it turns into positive results. There is always a release with the victory. Winning a contract, increase in market share, profits up, or stock price soaring can be positive motivators for a culture that can handle stress to its advantage as they stay locked into the long term goal.
Stress caused by the wrong reasons can be very harmful. When market share dwindles, profits drop and the stock price is eroding there is a lot of bottom line thinking and people need to be focused on their daily duties but also aware of the long-term. Without a long-term perspective some companies, by reacting to market conditions, create stress that gets in the way of success. Putting sales volume ahead of long-term market share and profit gains is a common happening that creates negative stress affecting their organizations and their people.
Here are a few other elements that can
help or hinder a company’s culture:
Levels, rank, and bureaucracy are the domains of the middle manager. Middle because there are just as many responsibilities below them as management above them. Based on their temperament, they can act as bridges or ladders for people to advance or they can be insulated and distant becoming more conduit-like than motivational. The most successful cultures are designed to support the corporate vision, which includes a strong middle-management force that can articulate policy and provide rationale. Most meaningful adjustments to an organizational culture happen because the folks in the middle are on the same page.
As a factor affecting your people, politics has a routinely negative influence. Politics undermines corporate goals in lieu of individual agendas. Politics is about getting ahead without getting hurt in the process. Internal political agendas cause people to take sides whereas strong positive cultures ignore differences and applaud common cause. The good news about politics is that it’s easy to spot. The bad news is that it’s just as easy to ignore. If ignored too long it can break a company apart and its culture with it.
External factors are anything that happens to an organization that affects its performance, but is not caused directly by the organization. Market dynamics, the economy, competitive influences, technological advances all impact business. These external factors always exist to some degree and it is often the strength and will of your people that determine their impact.
For example, a product innovation that does not sell as well as expected is traced to an internal malfunction. Fixing the malfunction however can be debilitating and force some internal “finger pointing.” Conversely a new product that does not sell well because the competition has introduced something better for less can rally the troops to create something better, generating an internal positive dynamic and confident “esprit de corps”. In each case pressure is put on the organization to make corrections but each can generate a very different internal mantra. A key factor here is in HOW the information is communicated. Putting the right “spin” on a situation can do wonders.
Aristotle Was Right
The key in nurturing the culture you want lies in how you impart information and to what extent the team understands the vision and their roles both collectively and individually. As one person can be infinitely flexible, mobile and impactful, so can a group of individuals that see one goal or seek one ideal or better yet, have one voice. Corporate voice, the articulation of the vision and its relationship to its people and culture is what drives organizations to change, to improve, to build and to excel. Nothing will happen unless or until all of the stakeholders play by the same rules. And approach the mission not necessarily with the same intensity, but with the same commitment to excellence.
It is, after all, what Aristotle said that rings true. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act but a habit.”
In today’s fast changing world, Cultures and the people that form them need to “create” new habits, collectively and individually. Habits that fulfill individual personal desires and fuel a daily ritual with energy that begets confidence and perpetuates a love for the tasks at hand and an appreciation for how it is changing each of their individual lives by subsequently achieving the desired goals.
Finally, all men may be created equal but they are still all very different and so then too are any and all collections of men or women. How you hire, treat, train, motivate, and participate with your people creates a unique culture all its own. A culture that when ready and willing can make the difference between getting there and getting stalled.
Information for this article was gathered through the process Visionization – a marketing methodology designed to assist owners and top management in adapting and refining corporate visions to maximize marketing efforts and potential. There are many variables to consider as every organization has a unique character or personality that must be assessed. Ergo Worldwide with years of marketing experience with companies and brands in transition can provide the tools to translate corporate goals into realities – To capitalize on your company’s unique point of difference and vision and align it with the opportunity – To take it to the next level.