Defining company culture: Things to consider before implementation


Since the 1960’s, workforces have become significantly more diverse, which has had direct repercussions on human resource management. With such a variety of ethnic backgrounds, it is particularly the case in Australia. Individuals brought up in different environments might not necessarily share the same values and that is when organisational culture comes into play.

Organisational culture can act as an aggregator to unify all employees under one culture with common values, regardless of the walks of life they come from. Employees should all feel included in the company culture and embrace it as their own to enhance overall organisational performance.

Understanding Company Culture Correctly

Culture and engagement are some of the most important issues faced by companies around the world. According to Deloitte, 87% of organisations appoint culture and engagement as “top challenges” although only 50% describe them to be very important.  Most companies do not fully grasp the entirety of culture and often fail to implement it, as only 13% of the global workforce is “highly engaged” with their culture.

Culture is a hard concept to grasp and implement as there is no clear definition. An HBR study published on LinkedIn has revealed that culture is not only a complex phenomenon but that there are many and different influential views on defining it. Here are six different ways to define culture to help understand it and how it might resonate within a business.

Culture as consistent and repeated behaviours

Culture can be defined by its repetitive nature. It can be shared through a set of values or actions. The interesting aspect to think about is what forces these behaviours and how certain actions or thoughts are considered the norm.

Culture as defined by incentives

Culture can also be defined by a set of incentives behind every action. Whether financial (i.e. bonus, salary increase) or non-financial (i.e. progression, status but also sanctions), culture is shaped by the actions taken by individuals according to their own incentives.

Culture as a “sense-making” tool

Culture can be a collaboration between individuals to share similar beliefs and interests to create a sense of cohesion. This helps other members to make sense of the core values of the company because, rather than being forced upon it, it is progressively introduced based on employee shared views.

Culture as an immune system

After establishing the core values in the business and establishing keen advocates, culture can be used in the role of an immune system. It can prevent employees deviating from core values. There is nothing worse than an underperforming employee because of a lack of cultural fit. Not only is this important to filter current employees, but it can also be a great tool for recruiting and help identify potential hires’ capacity to adapt.

Culture in its entirety and subcultures

Culture is often seen as a unique set of core values, beliefs and behaviours but in fact, multiple cultures can coexist in one entity. A good example is a company that has recently undergone a merger or acquisition. Subcultures often persist in such situations and often clash as a result of the differences between the two business’ cultures. As such, it is important to see culture as a dynamic process that adapts and changes throughout time.

Culture as a dynamic process

To establish culture is an ongoing process that evolves as the business changes, and so a change of CEO, mergers, acquisitions or shift in the industry might push you to incrementally change your culture or on the other hand completely revolutionise it. Culture should never be considered flawless or untouchable as some changes may be necessary to adapt to new situations.

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Why Company Culture Matters


Treat Your Company Vision as the Seed for Culture

The plurality of definitions make the concept of culture hard to understand and implement, but deciding on a company vision can help to define your core values and, therefore, can act as the seed for your culture.

There is no right or wrong answer with to one. The importance is to take the time to reflect on what drives your company and act accordingly, as this will shape the uniqueness of your business. Changing your culture might be necessary along your journey and avoiding to do so might mean your core values may not be upheld. Culture is the essence of your company and while it might need tweaking or revolutionising, bear in mind it is not just something you can just replace.

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