Each company is defined by it. Not many know it by name and many don’t even know it exists!
It’s your company culture, your DNA, if you will, of your organisation!
Your company culture defines the way in which your organisation interacts with other businesses.
It also defines how your team interacts with the outside world, specifically your partners, suppliers and customers. People will want to do business with you because of what you believe in and stand for, rather than solely on your products alone.
It’s the formula that guides the team, as well as inspires and motivates employees. It is also responsible for attracting and attaining great talent, as well as creating a fun, happy, healthy and exciting work environment.
Understanding this principal will quickly allow you to see the importance of your company culture and the role it plays in the success of your business.
Over the past six years I’ve started multiple businesses, some were complete failures and a few we managed to successfully exit.
When I look back at the key factors that made the difference between the businesses that failed compared to those that succeeded, I have to say that staff culture was one of the main factors in the equation.
A lot of the times we were entering an already saturated market place with pre-existing competitors who offered a similar product or service to us. But, what made us stand out were our company culture and the way we as a team interacted with client’s day in day out.
With the rare exception, things like your products, strategies and even your techniques can be duplicated. The only truly unique identifiers are the values and norms of your organisation.
To gain a deeper insight into the mechanics of what it takes to build a great company culture on my recent trip to San Francisco, I decided to visit some of the biggest companies in the world such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others.
While I learnt heck of a lot from each company and the way they had built their culture, the place I was most impressed by was LinkedIn. Here’s are the top three reasons why I was so impressed.
1. A common goal
Everybody I spoke with was excited to be at work. You could see it in their eyes, feel it in the way they spoke and, most importantly, how they made me feel while in their presence.
Employee’s today are looking for a purpose to their work that is easily stated, outwardly directed, and makes a real difference. Getting to us, therefore, begins with knowing your why.
For exceptional organisations, profit is not confused with purpose. Why is an unambiguous statement of higher calling that transcends the profit motive? Profit becomes a by-product of purpose.
It became very clear to me that everyone not only believes in the company, but can directly see how their role is an important element to achieving the overall mission of LinkedIn.
“A company’s culture can be one of its greatest assets – particularly when it comes to attracting the best and brightest talent. When your employees are inspired and collectively focused on a common goal, great things can happen.” – Crystal Braswell, LinkedIn Corporate Communications Manager
2. Personal growth
The second thing that stood out for me was LinkedIn’s interest in the personal growth of their employees outside of their profession and role.
Ever since I started my first company, I made a commitment that regardless of what business I start, I would always have two things in mind in pursuit of business success:
a) To make a positive change to the lives of customers who use our service/product.
b) Inspire every staff member to think bigger and live a more fulfilled life both personally and professionally.
This philosophy was quite evident in LinkedIn’s approach to staff development and ongoing growth. Every month LinkedIn give their employees a day off to work on projects they are personally passionate about.
The staff are free to support any project or charity and can work solo or in a team.
They call this: “In Day”. They also have bi-annual “Nonprofit Innovation Grants” where they support social causes their staff are passionate about.
“In Days are one of my favourite perks of working at LinkedIn. It’s a unique opportunity that happens twelve times a year, and gives every employee at LinkedIn a chance to take a break from their usual work responsibilities and focus on ideas, projects, or causes that inspire us.” – Doug Madey, LinkedIn Corporate Communications Manager
The final thing I loved most about LinkedIn’s culture was their level of inter-connectedness. For a company as big as LinkedIn (now close to 6,000 employees), it sure felt like a start-up.
Walking around the premises it felt like everyone knew each other on a personal level. Something like this doesn’t happen overnight; building great culture takes time and requires innovative thinking.
When you first start working at LinkedIn, one of the main goals they set within your first three months of employment, is to speak with and get to know as many staff members as possible.
If a company of this size can do this, there are no excuses. Make it a priority to get to know each and every one of your co-workers; the results will speak for themselves.
Now of course, understanding what needs to be done to create a positive corporate culture is much easier than actually implementing the changes.
Depending upon your current culture, it may take a massive amount of effort on the part of several areas of management and departments, and perhaps even severe organisational changes, in order to create the culture you desire.
But once the cycle does begin, the positive results can be tremendous, and a well-maintained corporate culture will soon move forward of its own volition of company pride and employee happiness increases.