If you browse any business websites, blogs, or journals, you’ll find article upon article about culture.
If you meander through LinkedIn, the Twittersphere, or Facebook, there too you will find a constant buzz about “culture.” It’s the topic de jour, the buzzword of 2015. Articles lure us in with headlines like “4 COMPONENTS OF A GREAT CORPORATE CULTURE” and “HOW THE RIGHT CULTURE CAN GUARANTEE SUCCESS.” They speak of the key components necessary to achieve a great corporate culture and roadmaps to success. They dazzle us with thoughts of how great our organizations can be, and they give us tidbits and pointers for how to build that great culture. Well, today, I’m going to debunk everything that these business experts are trying to tell you.
Culture is not a destination. Culture is the here and the now. You already have a culture.
There, I said it. You already have a culture. Whether it’s a good one or a bad one, you most certainly have one. Culture is defined as a way of thinking, behaving, or acting that exists in an organization, so the things that are happening right now, at this moment, at this very second in your office are actually your culture.
You probably have a mission statement, a vision statement, or core values written somewhere on your website, right? And probably another copy framed in your conference room. Let me guess – it says something like this:
Our mission is to exceed the expectations of our clients through relationships fostered with honesty, integrity, and respect.
Perhaps you have a sentence or two that relate directly to your industry or focus, but I’m willing to bet that I’m pretty close. Business owners often feel that they have a handle on their “culture” if they’ve taken the time to write down a mission statement or some core values. But the problem with these sorts of statements is that they’re only cultural if they’re true. You’ve got to walk the walk, folks.
If your employees are constantly bickering, your departments don’t communicate well with each other, or your leadership is absent, that’s your culture. You might say the right things to your external clients, and you may even treat them with honesty, integrity, and respect, but until you get a handle on your internal clients, you cannot have great culture.
Think of the most visible, excellent brands in our world today. Disney, Starbucks, and even McDonalds place a constant emphasis on internal training and teamwork, which is conveyed directly to their external clients. Organizations that focus from the inside out are organizations with an excellent culture. What does a great culture look like? Great culture occurs in organizations where the internal clients are treated as the #1 client, where communication is fluid and constant between leadership, staff, and customer, where expectations are known, and where positive behavior is recognized and rewarded. Great culture emerges when the mission, vision, and values are not only true but also demonstrated and accelerated on a daily basis by everyone in the organization.
Look around your organization. Do you have brand ambassadors working hard to bring your image to the next level? If not, it may be time to take a good, hard look at who you want to be and what you want to be known for. We have to practice what we preach. Until then, we are just mediocre organizations with a mission statement and low culture.