AS A RECRUITER, one of the questions I ask my clients and potential clients is what does your company’s culture look like and sound like. The first part of the questions is usually pretty routine for the HR person or whoever I am speaking with to answer but the second part of the question will almost certainly result in a quizzical ‘what do you mean” answer. In truth a healthy company culture not only looks a certain way in terms of a harmonious work environment, ethnically diverse workforce, etc. but there is a certain sound that is emitted that transmits the signal this is an organization that management has solidified.
In terms of what your company culture looks like one of the items I alluded to above is that it should be visible for anybody who walks into the office unexpectedly to witness the collaborative team effort that is put forth. If bickering or dissension permeate throughout the halls and corridors it is a clear reflection of a company culture where hostility rules the office. Predictably your employee turnover ratio is quite high that invariably lead to an inability to infuse new talent into the organization.
How diverse not only in terms of ethnic makeup is your office but also along the lines of single, married, gay, lesbian with a healthy smattering of veterans be they disabled or not. You can successfully argue the point that not every office is going to have a diverse or as diverse staff as they should but those that do exhibit a culture of commitment to hiring the best talent they can find irrespective to anything except proven ability to get the job done.
Let’s now explore that not so well known or thought of component to your company known as the sound of your culture. We know what the verbal ping pong shouting matches sound like. Yet few recognize the sound of a bad company culture when nothing that sounds out of place is heard. Sounds of leader covertly trying to lead in a manner (you hear it in his dialogue if you pay close attention) that is slanted so that he gets credit for everything good that happens while deftly dodging any negative results that his leadership produced. That is a disastrous sound while not overly audible it is nonetheless heard.
When simple routine morning greetings are not heard being exchanged amongst the staff there is a bubbling caldron of unstated anger ready to explode. The spoken tone of such words like thank you, excuse me and please when mouthed in an either a condescending or in an annoyed tonal inflection the sound of your culture blasts out the words AVOID WORKING FOR THIS COMPANY!
Additional sound-bytes that reflect on your culture are how management orally or via the written word communicates with each other and the employees. While one would not expect corporate dictum to sound like long lost lovers reuniting, the overall tone dictates either a feeling of respect/appreciation for the jobs being done or one of ‘no matter how good you do or no matter how good you are it just isn’t nor will it ever be good enough.’
I would like to get back into the subject of looks as it relates to an office dress code or lack thereof. An office with a “business casual” dress code is not uncommon these days it should not be that business casual means dress as you please. The way you dress directly affects your feelings about your work which is then transported to the eyes of customers or anybody else who may stray into your office unexpectedly. If a spectator were to witness employees wearing T-shirts with obscene messages on them or employees wear clothing with strategically placed slits in them and so forth it would be impossible not to conclude your company culture is one that is reflective in more cases than not an unprofessional organization that invariably produces inferior quality products.
The fact remains that the way your company culture looks and sounds like not just to you (don’t be too surprised if you as the CEO are not cognizant of your company culture or find flaws in it) but to your clients or business partners as well is as vital to your continued viability as a business as is the pricing of your goods or services. While looks can be deceptive or give false impressions the combination of looks along with the now known commodity of the sound of your company culture cement in addition to everything else the values you appear to adhere to. Solid core values must be an intrinsic element to ensuring you have the proper balance of looks and sounds to make your company culture one that others will want to replicate.