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Changing the way we think about corporate culture

Corporate culture does not exist identically for every employee, or for every company out there. Some leaders define corporate culture as a secured state, one that will remain stagnant once achieved. This linear approach to corporate culture has been relevant to leaders and communicators in the past, but has since evolved and changed. We need to proactively re-think and re-define its meaning.

We can think of corporate culture like the helical model of the solar system. Your company and employees are constantly moving through time and space; a stagnant or static state is unachievable. If we think of company culture in a non-helical model sense, we would be left with a linear and predictable culture that does not allow room for change or improvement. This type of environment can lead to poor morale and issues with securing and preserving talent, which will ultimately hinder the growth and development of your company.

Company culture is not objective

Culture cannot be defined as objective because it is socially constructed by each individual person. For example, it has been said that millennials are choosier about the company they work for than any previous generation. They place value on having a healthy work-life balance. On the contrary, it is said that baby boomers have a higher priority for work over their personal life. While this may hold true from a generational perspective, it is also important to consider each employee as an individual rather than part of a categorized group. This is especially important for global companies because concepts like “baby boomers” or “Gen X” are predominantly a phenomenon of Western cultures. Though each employee contributes to a company’s culture, they may have perspectives that differ from one another. One’s personal values, background, and past experiences influence their idea of culture, which contributes to shaping the culture of your company.

Company culture is not static

We need to manage corporate culture as a continuous process that is constantly shifting. This allows for an environment that is regularly learning and developing.

Culture can be influenced by:

  • employees leaving or entering an organization
  • a re-structuring of teams
  • a change in team dynamic

Corporate culture should not be thought of as something that needs to be improved only once a corporate change or crisis occurs. It is in constant motion and will continue to shift whether you are keeping track of it or not. Having a culture that aligns with your company strategy, and that is readily able to adapt to internal or external changes, is key to having a successful corporate culture.

Company culture is not linear

We cannot treat company culture as a cause-effect relationship. What works for one company’s culture may not work for another, what has worked in the past may not work today. You cannot force a company’s culture to evolve by sticking to a perfectly outlined plan. When leaders are open to change and improvement, that is when culture flourishes. You may not be able to change a company’s culture by following a rule book, but you can change the things that influence a culture. Culture is adaptable, and eventually the changes will be inherited within your work environment.

Look around your organization and soak in the many influences that make up your corporate culture. Many cultures exist in what you used to think was one culture. Be aware of what your company culture is made up of and what makes it thrive. Remember, you will never reach a static state as each employee contributes to shaping your culture. Change the way you perceive corporate culture, and be open to the constant motion it encompasses.

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