Culture Trumps All!

So, I have been thinking about what I wanted as the topic for my first blog post.  As I sat and began to think about this, it was pretty clear that culture should be the first topic because every company boils down to its culture.  Over the years I have been very fortunate to work in some amazing cultures.  At the same time I have also worked in dysfunctional cultures, and have witnessed damaged cultures in the companies I have had as clients.  I have said many times “culture trumps the best laid plans every day of the week.”  As I began to think about my own company, I realized that I had the opportunity to create the culture that I have always dreamed.  Even though as I sit here and write this post, I am a “solopreneur”, I know my company will grow, so it is important to define my company’s culture right now.  From day ONE.  This, in my opinion is just as important as building your business plan, setting up your legal entity, branding your company, etc.  Again, culture trumps all else.

What is culture?  I have asked this question to companies in the past and you get answers like “to be the best organization in our class” or “to make money and WIN!”.  They are confused when I tell them this is not culture, these are goals, and your culture will help you reach these goals.  Then what is culture?  The best definition of culture that I have seen comes from the website business dictionary andis as follows: 

‘The values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization. Organizational culture includes an organization’s expectations, experiences, philosophy, and values that hold it together, and is expressed in its self-image, inner workings interactions with the outside world, and future expectations. It is based on shared attitudes, beliefs, customs, and written and unwritten rules that have been developed over time and are considered valid”.

The thing about culture is it grows overtime.  Culture is organic.  Culture is also set by the management, and needs to be part of the hiring process.  I often hear companies talk about an employee not being a good fit.  When I hear this I immediately wonder if their company has a defined culture?  While we all make mistakes in hiring, I find companies that integrate their culture into the hiring process have less of these “not good fits”.  The other thing about culture is if you do not define it, it will define you.  Companies that have horrible cultures created that environment.  They may not know it, but they did.  Dysfunctional cultures grow like cancer.  This type of culture leads to decreased productivity, high rates of turnover, reduced profits, and employees who simply show up, keep their head down, and go home dreading the next day where they have to do this all over again.  Is that the type of company you want to work for?  Is that the type of company you want to create?  I sure hope the answer is a loud “Oh hell NO”.  

So, as I begin to form my own culture I would like it to include the following elements:

  1. Inclusiveness
  2. Creativity
  3. Honesty
  4. Integrity
  5. FUN

This I vow, to form a company where all my employees feel valued for their ideas, who are encouraged to think BIG, to speak openly about all things, to feel proud to be part of the team and also have some damn fun along the way.

Be well my friends,

Eric