The world is awakening to the importance of company culture. If you search Google for it and you will find that search results turn up over 400 million hits in a fraction of a second, including stories in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and other respected business publications.
Why does culture earn so much press? That is because it is critically important, often misunderstood, and impacts the bottom line. Company culture has finally become a topic that actually keeps leaders awake at night.
Culture is the personality of an Organization
Most simply, culture is the personality of the company, which contributes to its sense of order, continuity, and community. Culture is partly described in how your organization runs including corporate procedures, the employee manual, and standardized workflow. It is also evident in employee protocols and behaviours such as how you dress at work, how you greet visitors and the stories you share about your workplace. It is described by what you offer such as the services, products, or intellectual advancements generated by your organization.
Culture is the personality of an organization, which contributes to its sense of order, continuity, and community.
A healthy organization will shift its culture periodically. These shifts can occur at different points in a company life-cycle and align with any major changes in business goals, such as when innovation becomes more important to develop new products or services. Shifts that occur too late to properly reflect business changes are commonplace and announced by striking headlines such as “15% layoff” or “management forced out”.
Culture and engagement
At the heart of employee motivation resides their own understanding of and alignment with the company culture. Engaged workers are the product of an environment in which they are valued, encouraged and supported. When people are helped to achieve their full potential, they are motivated to perform at their highest levels which certainly helps to obtain the company goals.
Misalignment of employees and company culture can have a negative impact on any business. Companies with low employee engagement suffer from a 32% decrease in operating income. 32% is such a remarkable number that it should definitely encourage more conversation around this issue.
What Is your culture type?
If we agree culture is important, we definitely need to understand how to identify it?
Competing Values Framework is a proven model describing company culture. Its framework consists of four core values that represent opposite approaches for driving innovation and effectiveness.
Each quadrant designated as Collaborate, Create, Control, and Compete — illustrates a culture type. For example, a Collaborate culture focusses on teamwork and effective communication, a Create culture concentrates on doing things first by differentiating itself externally with a high degree of experimentation and individuality, a Control culture is usually run by a very controlling leader with rigid rules and regulations or procedures which often discourages input from team members, a Compete culture encourages competition between the teams which can be good or bad depending on how it is handled..
No company exists entirely within one quadrant of the culture. Nor should it, as certain cultural traits from each of the quadrants are important for a healthy organization. In fact, each company workgroup or department may have different cultures, and they may only partially align with the overall company culture. For instance, a quality assurance department with an emphasis on rigour and process will be much different than a research and development department, which would more likely be focused on innovation and creativity.
Culture and your workplace
In the past, space has been viewed as a cost center and a drain on the bottom line. Recent shifts towards a human-centric business model recognize space as an enabler of effectiveness and innovation.
Our highest achievement as designers is to understand and efficiently support the disparate needs of the workforce. Developing a useful program for space needs is a necessary and complicated part of any project. Often missing is the evidence for a certain spatial decision, such as the size or number of meeting spaces. Happily, different culture types can provide a grounded rationale for the design decisions most appropriate for their work needs. For instance, a workgroup that is mostly a Control culture doesn’t require as much collaboration space and will benefit from more formal, “heads down” spaces than a Create culture.
The design of space can also impact the bottom line either directly, by helping or hindering the flow of work, or indirectly, by impacting the happiness and engagement of employees. Architecture, interior design, and furnishings provide a tangible way to support or even alter the culture of an organization.
The realization that design is useful is certainly a key element to consider.
The importance of culture and workplace
$450 billion is the amount Gallup believes is lost every year due to disengaged workers. This underscores that engagement and successful organizational culture are intentional by design and not the product of default or serendipity.
A cultural assessment of the workspace might be a valuable place to start if you are looking to increase productivity, efficiency, creativity and happiness in your workplace. In the end, the leadership needs to lead the way, model the behaviours they want to see in their employees, and commit to creating and maintaining a culture that will provide the organization with the results they seek.