Business Success: Balancing Company Culture with Business Goals

In today’s business world, everything can be defined by a number or a metric. We track our bottom lines, sales goals, target growth rates, but rarely do we see anything that measures company culture.

But what does company culture mean to you and your team? It might be the way your company values its people. It might be the flexibility you get, the quality of peers you work with or the growth opportunities you have available to you. Or perhaps it’s the company perks. After all, who wouldn’t enjoy a nice nap pod?

Defining Company Culture

There isn’t a consensus on what company culture really is. To you, it might be the company’s personality; to others it’s how the organization is fulfilling our needs. The SHRM defines it as “shared beliefs and values […] communicated and reinforced through various methods, ultimately shaping employee perceptions, behaviors and understanding.”

Let’s look at it from a different angle. How do you know if a job candidate is a good fit? Other than what you can see on their resume, you’re going to come to a conclusion based on how their values, priorities, and work style match yours and your team’s. That comparison, the team-fit and job-fit, is your culture. It is something you and your team build together from the way you work, the values you share, and including how you communicate.

How it Impacts Business Goals

When company culture and business goals don’t support each other, it makes it harder to turn those goals into reality. When aligned with strategy and leadership, a strong culture drives positive organizational outcomes. Because a great company culture starts from its people (the most important asset of your organization), when things change – be it the people, markets, trends – it is important to make sure your culture aligns with all these shifts, as leading with culture may be among the few sources of sustainable competitive advantage left to companies today.

These days, employee expectations for their employers also go beyond a simple paycheck. A 2018 LinkedIn survey found that people would rather put up with lower pay (65%) and forego a fancy title (26%) than deal with a bad workplace environment. If that’s surprising, take a look at these statistics:

Balancing It All

With a balanced culture, your team can feel psychologically safe, meaning they feel comfortable being themselves, sharing ideas, and feeling part of the culture. So how do you foster that environment? Deloitte has come up with a set of questions to help you effectively understand and manage your organization’s culture. Here are some of the key ones:

  • How well does our performance management or compensation system reinforce or improve our culture?
  • Are we willing to reduce productivity temporarily to invest the time it takes to build a culture of learning?
  • In today’s competitive talent environment, how does our culture affect our employment brand and ability to attract, hire, and retain top talent?

Leaders should work with HR to take a hands-on, data-driven approach to managing culture. Overall, businesses will have to regularly assess employee behavior and revisit reward systems to help monitor and reinforce culture in all areas of the company. It’s easy once you get going and decide on your direction for cultural change.  If you’re thinking about a cultural transformation, it’s time to start now because the earlier you start, the earlier you can get ahead.