Question:  What Is Organizational Culture and How Can It Affect My Business?

Response: Organizational Culture can be described as ‘The way we do things around here’. It might be represented by celebrating by winning a competitive contest, earning an award for ‘best in class’ or by a hard-driving leader whose sole mission is to get the job done, no matter what, including not listening to any dissenting opinion. Culture can therefore be a positive or a negative force in your business and every other business as well. The recent uproar over the business practices of ride hailing giant, Uber is a case in point. Its founder and recently fired CEO Travis Kalanick created the culture of ‘win at any cost’ which drove the company to a $60 billion market valuation in less than 10 years. But it also alienated drivers, customers, employees, board members and investors. The net result for Travis Kalanick was that he lost his job as CEO. The Organizational Culture that he built no longer worked.

Culture cannot be built-in the long run on fear and the wielding of unrestrained power. To be sustainable, it must be built upon trust, integrity, and respect. There must be open communication, sharing of ideas, and a genuine belief system that everyone must benefit in some way from an association with the company. Central to this thinking is that employees are the main asset that a business has and to create sustainable competitive advantage. It must be based on their continuing commitment to the mission, goals and business practices that have been jointly set by the top management and employees.

A company is known by both its goals and the work of its employees and managers in fulfilling its commitments. This includes acting by a code of ethical behavior that binds everyone acting in the name of the company to do so in an honorable and trustworthy manner. That is what builds a reputation for the company and the business practices it follows.

So it is both what we say we are going to do, and what we actually do. We must both talk the talk and walk the walk in order to be a respected company. And respect is what builds sustainable businesses. Culture is everything we stand for, and what we won’t stand for. It has to be built and maintained by everyone in the company, each and every day. When it works, it works as the key building block of enduring success. When it doesn’t work it inhibits performance and can lead ultimately to failure. As the saying goes, ‘Build it and they will come.’

SCORE mentors are available to help companies in their quest to build a culture that works. SCORE services are free, both to startup ventures and established companies.

Call today for an initial consultation and ‘Organizational Culture Development Plan’.

SCORE Hagerstown, Tel 301-766-2043.   

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