Corporate Culture

May 2022

What one word or phrase best defines the ‘culture’ of your company?

Oh, and yes, you do have a ‘corporate culture’ whether your company is 1 person or 200 people.

So first, let’s clarify that having a Corporate Culture isn’t innately bad. In fact, it’s something that comes with any business or organization. It’s one of the ‘giants’ we all face as business owners/leaders and needs to be addressed intentionally and carefully.

Corporate culture is hard to define. Hans Finzel puts it this way, it’s “The way we do things around here”. That leaves a lot up in the air when we really think about it. Three words or phrases are incorporated into that one short sentence – ‘the way’ needs to be expanded and applied because the way can be intellectual, emotional, spiritual, or physical. The phrase ‘do things’ covers just about everything and how it gets done, and ‘around here’ can mean anything from a geographical location to a department in a large corporation.

Finzel adds a more refined definition as, “An organizations corporate culture is the way insiders behave based on the values and group traditions they hold”. There’s a lot to address in that statement too. I would add that it includes group beliefs as well, whether accurate or not.

Very few of us have culture on our mind when we begin our venture. We most likely have some ideas in the back of our mind as to how we want it to be, or to be known as, but we’re usually so busy getting our ‘stuff’ lined up, laid out, and rolling, in the beginning years that we just keep putting any definition or intentionality toward it on the back burner and assume we’re ok.

Eventually it must be addressed. Over the years it builds up and takes on its own identity that may not be at all what we had in mind.

Into the Book

Scripture has a lot to say about what a strong and encouraging culture should look like. We’ll dig into both the Old Testament and the New Testament to see what we can glean. 2 Tim 3:16-17 put it this way, “All scripture is inspired (breathed) by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man (or woman) of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

By this time, it’s affecting our employees, especially new ones, and we begin hearing about ‘issues’. But the problem doesn’t stop there. If not addressed these ‘culture issues’ begin to affect our clients, suppliers, and sub-contractors. All of this can impact our employee satisfaction (joy of being part of our team) and retention as well as our reputation on the outside.

Too often it sneaks up on us and then we react and ‘put the hammer down’ to correct things. This only makes it more difficult to address.

So, what’s the solution?

First, we need to STOP our routine and take a realistic ‘look and listen’ tour of our own heart and mind in relation to what we want our culture to be like and our roll in getting it to where it is now and in getting it to where it should be. Are we, as the leaders, committed to this aspect of our company?

Getting to this point might take some deep looking and listening to our peers and coaches.

Once we have clarity in ourselves, we’re ready to take a deep ‘look and listen tour’ of our most valuable resource. This is difficult and risky because we will discover things we don’t like. Misconceptions, misunderstandings, poor processes and procedures, frustrated and discouraged employees. Even hostile and dishonoring practices. All of which we may not have realized was going on.

There are a lot of resources to look at that will help you. You’ll need a team of trusted and committed advisors and coaches to walk with you through this process, but it will be worth it all in the end.

Stopping, looking, and listening is just the beginning. Keep on keeping on!

The Challenge of Balance, Character, and Alignment

Into the Workplace

We’ll examine some key characteristics that a strong, honoring, safe, and effective culture should have. This will be a valuable and encouraging time together.