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Tim Millett
Published by Tim Millett
08 October 2013

Corporate culture is a difficult thing to define. Every company has it, whether they build it on purpose or by accident, and the way it develops makes it either a liability or an asset. In some places company culture is fostered, while in others it simply happens.

If you want a specific culture for your business, then it’s important that you take an active role in creating it. Otherwise, you could end up with a work environment that you never envisioned. Plus, developing a positive culture will help you attract and retain quality staff members, which will only help boost your organisation. The following are some questions to ask yourself to determine whether or not you are fostering a positive company culture.

Do you understand the scope of culture?

Culture is essentially the environment you have created for people to work in — or the personality of your entire organisation. Generally, the environment is comprised of a few elements, such as a common vision, shared values, and accepted behaviours. To have good company culture, you will have clearly identified and defined the behaviours you want to embrace and foster.

Have you obtained acceptance?

Your company culture can only be strong if it has gained wide acceptance, is internally consistent, and has made it very clear what behaviours are appropriate. The success of your company vision, purpose and core values lies on the shoulders of this consistent structure and the behaviour of people, which you have to promote.

Do you have cultural consistency?

If you have people from a variety of backgrounds and yet fail to concretely define acceptable behaviours, you won’t be able to build consistency of culture. While you want to maintain a space where different people can express their diverse opinions, it’s the consistency regarding your operating environment that is the important thing. Achieving cultural consistency will require strong leadership on your part, as well as patience and dedication.

Do you encourage creativity?

While you may have a formula that’s been working for you for the past decade, it’s still important that you create a space where people can feel comfortable and supported enough to be creative and innovative. This is the essence of improving and growing your business as well as staying ahead of the competition.

To get this, you also need employees who feel safe being creative at your organisation, as well as employees who are continually being educated and are evolving in their roles. You can encourage this by providing the right type of training and education, such as computer, customer service or sales training.

What does your reporting structure look like?

Often, for companies to deal with fast growth, they move quickly from a more informal reporting structure to a very hierarchical structure. If you are going through a growth phase, or are planning to in the future, it’s important that you come up with a plan for how your chain of command will work and how formal the structure will be.

If you want a more collaborative teamwork-type structure, then it’s important that you nurture this ideal throughout growth; otherwise, you may end up with a strong hierarchy simply for the sake of convenience. The important part is that you are in a position to know what is happening on the ground of your business and that you’re available to give and receive feedback when necessary.

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