What is corporate culture ?

“Culture can be analysed as a phenomenon that surrounds us at all times, being constantly enacted and created by our interactions with others. The dynamic processes of culture creation and management are the essence of leadership and make one realise that leadership & culture are 2 sides of the same coin.”

Edgar Schein
Organisational Culture & Leadership

Corporate culture at its most basic level is the sum of an organisation’s behaviours and practices. It reveals itself in big and small decisions as well as daily practices (“how we do things around here”) that tend to perpetuate themselves. Culture often goes unnoticed by employees (like the air you breathe), yet a healthy culture (like clean air) is essential to a healthy organization. A firm’s founder naturally places his or her stamp on the organisation — shaping the culture through early hiring decisions and policies, as well as his or her own values, communications, and behaviour. But most often, as the organisation grows organically its culture naturally changes and is allowed to evolve.

But, culture — and then subsequently employee engagement — is too critical to leave to the evolutionary forces. You must deliberately mold and cultivate a high-performance culture to drive engagement. And you can.

High-performance cultures are shaped around the following three components:


1. A clear, compelling corporate vision/mission. A mission, is a statement that answers the question of why the company exists: “What’s your reason for being?” It needs to inspire, inform business decisions, generate customer loyalty, ignite employee passion, and motivate discretionary effort. “Making money” doesn’t qualify as a mission, although profitability is essential to a firm’s survival. And although a mission does not have to reflect a “save the world” tone, it does need to be aspirational and clear enough to engage employees. Its mere existence serves as the organisation’s ‘North Star’, providing a fixed point to which the workforce can connect.


2. Shared organisational values. Core values guide employee behaviour and influence business practices as your organisation delivers on its promises to customers, employees, and other stakeholders. Core values answer the question: “What are your guiding principles, your authentic, enduring ‘rules of the road’?” Your business strategies shift to meet market demands. Your core values don’t. We have looked at Vodafone’s core values earlier today and will revisit these throughout the programme.


3. Shared accountability. High-performance cultures require an environment that encourages employee ownership of both the organisation’s bottom-line results and its cultural foundation. Culture affects everyone and is everyone’s business. It’s essential, then, that the entire workforce understands the core drivers of your culture and share responsibility for sustaining them.


- Assess your corporate culture by taking the corporate culture assessment here



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