Corporate Culture and Core Values are for Brochures Not Boardrooms
“Corporate culture” is one of those phrases packaged by the marketing department for corporate publications and used by Human Resources when you’re first hired. Concepts like “corporate culture” and “core values” are just that – concepts. They’re not applicable to the work you and your team are expected to do every day down in the trenches, right? Wrong!
Companies are People
Companies are nothing without their people. And, like it or not, people exist in cultures – whether they’re clearly defined on a macro level by the top down, or quietly created on the micro level through cubicle conversations and break room behaviors. As one recent article in Fast Company describes it, “Step inside any company, no matter the size, stage of development, or level of success, and the culture is either driving the strategy or undermining it.” Do you know what determines the difference? Employee engagement.
Turning Core Values into a Corporate Culture – Two Real World Examples
I recently worked with a company that demonstrates what happens when an organization does not align its core values to its culture. This small business struggled with an unusually high turnover rate. The CEO blamed it on poor management, but company exit interviews suggested otherwise.
This organization’s core values, frequently mentioned in meetings as the cornerstone of what made that company great, were “learning through listening,” “empowering through diversity,” and “growing through innovation.” Yet, when managers were on their way out the door, they made it clear that the CEO never stood still long enough to listen, became defensive and angry when employees expressed different perspectives in meetings, and shut them down when they offered new solutions to recurring problems. In short, the CEO talked the talk, but never walked the walk.
Centier Bank in Northwest Indiana sits on the opposite side of the spectrum. This is an organization that has created a corporate culture around its core values, one of which they describe as “a passion for service to each other and our communities.” Take a look at my blog about Centier and how it “lives that value” through employee engagement programs. As a result, it has been recognized as one of Northwest Indiana’s best places to work.
As a leader within your company, are you “living” its core values? You are only if you are communicating, demonstrating and acknowledging them on a daily basis. If not, then you’re still creating a corporate culture, but you might want to ask yourself, what kind of culture is it?