Corporate Culture is the tacit social order of an organization: it shapes attitudes and behaviors in wide-ranging and durable ways
"Corporate culture” has become a buzz phrase in the modern business world, though it can sometimes still sound like a fantasy land, where people somehow act consistently across cultures. But every corporate has a culture, even if it is not defined and clearly communicated, and each manager and leader in the business builds it consciously or not by the way s/he behaves. If the right culture is developed and rewarded, it can bring teams together and inspire success, even across different offices and countries.
Here is my three components of a good corporate culture that motivates growth:
1. Build a safe space
There are two main ways to motivate people at work: make them constantly afraid of failure, or give them a safe space to learn and grow. Studies have shown that many businesses hire “insecure overachievers” [Harvard Business Review], who then overwork and achieve success through anxiety. This works in the short-term, but people burn out. Worse, they may not be honest about what’s working (or not). In today’s changing environment, you need to know quickly about potential issues, so you can change strategy. That means people need to feel safe enough to tell the truth. Find out what’s causing stress and anxiety in your team, and work to fix it. Start with simple things – make reporting lines and KPIs clear, so people know how they are assessed. This is an important foundation of a good culture.
2. Reward stability and agility
The tech industry constantly talks about agile business – about how important it is to “fail fast.” At the same time, many leaders in more traditional businesses are criticized for rewarding cool ideas rather than things that are working in practice. It’s important to strategize in two directions: maximizing what already works well, and experimenting to drive new growth. This will help to ensure that “fast failure” doesn’t jeopardize the business overall. It also allows you to motivate different types of employees: those who prefer stability can maintain existing business, while restless people can work on new products and approaches.
3. Act before you know everything…
… and motivate your team to do the same. If you see a new business opportunity, do your research, take the opportunity. But don’t wait until you have all the answers; it will probably be too late. (And usually, even if you think you know everything, you don’t.) Encourage proactivity and new ideas. Engage as many diverse opinions and views as you can. You have to take calculated risks to be successful in business.
Together, these constitute a corporate culture that allow your team to take risks but to feel supported and rewarded to succeed.
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