According to author, Kris Dunn in her blog post, Keys to Developing Corporate Culture, “Corporate culture is all about really what you value as a company, what you value in terms of how you serve your customers, how business gets done, and what you value from a performance perspective across your talent base.” Although he concedes that there is no single definition that could be overlaid across all of corporate America, Dunn stresses that, at its core, culture represents the manifestation of the guiding principles that underpin every part of your company.
“Like style,” Dunn says, “you kind of know good culture when you see it.”
Culture is less about “free soda and ping pong tables” and more about performance, Dunn argues. Keeping a fun workplace atmosphere may be part of the image that your company presents, but what culture should actually be built on is an unrelenting focus on factors that “create a DNA map of the type of employee that a company looks for.” Find the characteristics that lead to high-performing team members, and your company becomes stronger and more successful.
A while ago, I had shared Dunn’s blog within various LinkedIn groups and posed two questions, “What are your thoughts on developing corporate culture? Would you be willing to let go of top performers if their management style is detrimental to your culture?” Here’s what various members of the groups had to say…
“There is no question that any company is only as strong as their weakest link. Too many leaders wait too long before they let poor performers or those with poor attitudes go. They are afraid of legal repercussions or more commonly, those “difficult conversations.” The biggest error is not clearly knowing and expressing the caliber of work expected from the team, giving the team the tools to be successful, and them holding them to account. Leaders don’t consistently document performance. They wing it. Just because someone is in charge doesn’t mean he or she has the knowledge or training on how to create and implement a company culture that endures and helps the company thrive.”
In our business, not one person can be above the values or culture that we have established. Most franchises, good ones at least, have that culture built into the fabric of their operations and in everything that they do. It’s one of the reasons that people invest in therm. It is what helps make them successful. I have had to relieve some top performers before because their method or interpretation of our culture was not in alignment with what was important at the client level and the staff/store level. It looks on paper like it may be painful to the business, but in each case, it was the best decision for the business. Ours is an owner/investor model so day to day is run by an on-site manager so it isn’t always apparent at the 5000-foot view. To answer the question above, if members of our management teams at the store level is not in alignment with our culture and they are successful, it is generally in spite of themselves and our stores and staff are bigger than any one individual or leader. Make the move and upgrade.”
“If the answer is no, then you have no culture, and culture doesn’t matter to you. Being a top performer is a part of our culture. Diversity is part of our culture. Acceptance of diversity is part of our culture, but style isn’t culture. If style is part of your culture, maybe your culture is superficial? We used to call that an office full of empty suits. If diversity, acceptance of diversity, and being a top performer aren’t important cornerstones of your culture, you may have a dysfunctional culture. The answer has to be yes. It’s a trick question, right?”
We’re looking forward to additional thoughts and perspective. What are your thoughts?