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Company Culture: What Does It Really Mean?

Beyond Blogs Web

As recruitment professionals, these are two words we hear on virtually every call; be it talking with a candidate or receiving a brief from a client. Everyone seems to be looking for "the right culture fit" and that really got us thinking, what exactly is this elusive culture that everyone is searching for? How does one find it? Is it a person? Can it be replicated?

We're sure it is safe to say that ticking all the right boxes on the job application form doesn't necessarily mean you're perfect for the role. It's also safe to say that those with "the perfect CV" often don’t come across as perfect when meeting a recruiter or potential employer for the first time either.

There have been many articles on the subject of company culture, including Professor Adrian Furnham’s book The Psychology of Behaviour at Work, where he describes it as follows: "A fit is where there is congruence between the norms and values of the organisation and those of the person." So basically, both parties sharing the same ideas and behaving in a similar way tend to work well together, or something like that.

When speaking to an inspiring client of ours to talk about his thoughts on creating and maintaining a good corporate culture, in reply to the question – “What does ‘company culture’ mean to you?” he simply replied, “It’s how the business acts when the boss is not around. The key is really to hire like-minded people who not only share similar personality traits but also a similar worldly outlook, values and appreciation.”

Overall, there are really four major steps to creating or maintaining a strong company culture that will ensure maximum staff retention and attraction of like-minded professionals to the business:

Define what matters: Decide what the values are, what really matters to the business, and how you are going to demonstrate them. Document it, but don’t just display it on the walls, LIVE BY IT.

Leadership sets the tone: Like it or not, the tone of the business is set by the leaders, how they act will trickle down to the staff below. The leadership team really needs to set the tone and work well together as a team, creating one voice, transparency, solid values and principles, really living and displaying all the values that matter.

Structure: The right reporting structure will either make or break a team or department. If this isn’t in place, a lack of accountability can set in across the board, which makes people less likely to uphold the values that are the foundations of your culture. Like I said earlier, leadership sets the tone, so your management team are key to driving company culture. Remember, people don’t leave companies, they leave managers, so ensuring your managers represent those values is crucial.

Communicate: Possibly the most important key in creating and maintaining a solid company culture is communication. Communicate the company values clearly, tactfully, and constantly. Practice them, preach them if you must, and praise those that advance them, especially when they think no one is looking, and act quickly when people aren’t demonstrating them.

The right company culture isn’t about making the most money and doing whatever it takes to get there. It’s about working together, feeling like you belong, being appreciated, being supported, sharing principles, sharing priorities and communicating clearly and often. Company culture isn’t something you find or hire, it’s something you create, share and protect with everything you have. 

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