business culture2

“Culture is a little like dropping an Alka-Seltzer into a glass – you don’t see it, but somehow it does something” – Hans Magnus Enzensberger

Yes, culture certainly does something within an organization. Culture sets the tone of how we do things around here. It defines and explains the way a business operates.

How is Culture Like An Iceberg?
We know from the Titanic that only the top of the iceberg was visible; the larger portion was underneath the water and invisible yet had great impact – it brought the Titanic down!

So, the visible aspects of culture (the 10%) are what we see on the surface: For example, the company logo, symbols, how space is used, the way people dress or the way they talk.

The not so visible, elements of culture (the 90%) are the values (what’s important, what we care about) and the norms (the ways people are expected to act). They impact the organization in three things:

1. Establishes an identity – people feel connected and committed.
2. Aligns everyone’s behavior so that they’re rowing in the same direction.
3. Provides the basis for making the right decisions and taking the right actions.

Essentially, it is what’s below the water line that drives the organization to success or failure.

Why Is Culture Important?
In a Deloitte Consulting study, 98% of executives and 88% of employees believe workplace culture is important to business success. Companies, with a strong culture, outperform companies with weak cultures because:

Their reputation as a great place to work will attract and retains great talent.
People who have a shared purpose work better together and achieve more.
Greater customer satisfaction will lead to better retention and referrals.

What’s Your Culture?
Culture is not putting nice sounding words on a piece of paper and posting it on the walls. Or trying to imitate or copy another company’s culture. It gets built one day at time, one interaction after interaction. So, how to start? Get feedback.

1. At your next staff, team or board meeting ask:

If you had to describe what it’s like to work here, what would you tell someone?
If you could change one thing to make your job easier, what would it be?
What kind of a person succeeds here? Fails here?

2. Also talk with your customers and ask:

What is it like to do business with us? Are we easy or difficult to work with?
If you could change one thing to have a better experience, what would it be?
Do we exceed, meet or disappoint your expectations? How can we improve?

Smart Moves Tip: The Business Edge 
Much of culture is played out in the day-to-day interactions between employees and their managers and between customers with your staff. So what leaders, who want to get results, need must realize is that their actions –what they do or don’t do—influences the perception of the company’s culture both inside and outside the company.