These days, the idea that corporate culture is a key puzzle piece for building business success is well accepted. But culture is an illusive concept—it’s emotional, it’s instinctive—so how can we fundamentally change it? There’s no doubt that the way your team feel and think will shape how they perform. But the efforts of many businesses to transform their corporate cultures fall flat. Why? Well, culture is a slow-moving ship—it needs time to adjust course, evolve, renew, and recalibrate. And once it gets there, it needs a captain at the helm to stay on course.
A well-worded corporate manifesto or circulated memo might serve as a useful building block, but they’re hardly going to cut the mustard on their own. Instead, it helps to have a better grasp of the many moving parts of corporate culture and how to steer them as one. At times, a corporate culture audit is a must if you are to understand where you’re going to be launching off from.
What Is Corporate Culture?
Corporate culture can be seen as the ways in which the professional dynamic between leadership and teams manifest into behavioral patterns and beliefs. Sometimes also referred to as organizational culture, this all-powerful state of being dictates whether a company functions synergistically—with energy, satisfaction, and innovation in abundance—or whether employees fall into disengagement, burnout, and even patterns of workplace theft or corporate crime.
Crucially, toxic corporate culture can be a company’s undoing, while thriving corporate culture can propel a business towards commercial success and prosperous resilience. That gold-standard for corporate culture can look very different between businesses with different goals, tones, and industries—but certain truths remain universal. Read on for the five tenets of strategically supporting a corporate culture on the rise.
1. Mindsets follow behaviors—not the other way around
There is a common misconception that you have to believe something in order to act on it. Instead, neuroscience tells us that it is the habits that we enact daily that actually forge strong beliefs and iron-clad attitudes. When they said “fake it ’till you make it,” it turns out they were onto something. This is why top-down messaging is so ineffective when it comes to shifting corporate culture for the better.
2. A few key players can change the game
When striving to alter corporate culture, getting a core group of informal leaders on board is vital for achieving success. These ambassadors for change will not only convey the ideals that should define your corporate culture, but they will model them through their daily behavior. The right individuals for this task won’t necessarily be those in leadership, but that doesn’t mean leadership are off the hook. When executives and managers don’t practice what they preach, anticipate that engagement in new ideas will be snuffed out immediately.
3. The drivers of corporate culture are practical as well as ideological
If your organization is laden with communication silos or your teams lack clear direction, how can you expect the seeds of a new corporate culture to travel? We mentioned the moving parts of corporate culture, and a vital element is that engaging practical means will be key to addressing the culturally conceptual.
Better yet, introducing strategic prompts for a corporate culture evolution is the perfect opportunity to task teams with collaboration, opening up channels and improving communication in the process. When those cultural expectations are tied into business objectives in a way that you can track and demonstrate, your employees will quickly be on board and motivated.
4. When it comes to changing corporate culture, don’t expect to snap your fingers
What is corporate culture, if not a collective manifestation of your company’s journey so far? In reality, its a mirror that will tell you the truth of where past leadership decisions—and failures—have carried you. And when toxicity has set in, you might find that you don’t like what you see.
But, inescapably, corporate culture needs to be seen so that it can be gradually sculpted—it can’t be overwritten like a hard drive. Shifting the parts of corporate culture that don’t align with your goals requires having a clear understanding of where you are today. Only armed with this information can you set a course to move forwards. In gaining this insight, a Corporate Culture Audit can be an indispensable resource.
5. Corporate culture requires vigilance and management over time
Just as snapping your fingers won’t work, changing corporate culture is not a one-and-done scenario. Culture need to shift as your business objectives grow and evolve, and active monitoring is required to ensure that positive transformation sticks, holds fast, and rolls with the punches.
Far too many companies don’t realize their corporate culture has become problematic until red flags are popping up in every direction. If things get dire enough, employee theft, malingering, workplace harassment, espionage and many more potentially catastrophic symptoms of cultural erosion can take an already-strained organization to breaking point.
When those flags are raised—and ideally long before that point—individually targeted corporate investigations won’t cut it. Widespread warning signs indicate that the problem is pervasive, and a Corporate Culture Audit is the best way to gain clear oversight of the scale of infection, as well as the right course of treatment.
For businesses going strong, this valuable preventative investigation can help to illuminate weak-points and ensure that corporate culture does indeed only goes from strength to strength. Wherever you are on your corporate culture journey, Lauth Investigations are here to assist. Learn more about our comprehensive corporate auditing service, or contact our team to discuss your needs today.