A “Strong Company Culture” Can be a Misnomer - HighGround


A “Strong Company Culture” Can be a Misnomer

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There is no shortage of blog posts, articles, case studies and news stories focusing on company culture. They typically start something like this: “How to… What it Takes to… Six Steps to… Nine Ways to…” and always end with “…Create a Strong Company Culture.” We’ve probably said it ourselves.

But really, creating a strong culture isn’t always a good thing.

The problem lies with the adjective. According to one source, to be strong is to be “able to withstand great force or pressure.” This very definition is exactly the opposite of what a culture should be. If your culture is awful, do you want it to be indestructible? No. And no company is perfect, so keeping things exactly as they are with no hope to change them means your employees will be running toward the door.

Let’s talk about two cultures that would be worth creating.

Flexible. This is a culture means where you leave it up to your employees to create an environment based on their needs, personalities and work styles. It’s adaptable, agile and employees are encouraged to bring new ideas to the table that challenge the status quo. A cornerstone of a flexible culture is continuous feedback and two-way conversation.

Purpose-driven. It’s well documented that the younger workforce is driven by more than money. According to one study, more than 50% of Millennials would take a pay cut to find work that matches their values and 90% want to use their skills for good.

So, what’s a purpose-driven company? This Fast Company article sums up the key differences and the type of culture it creates: “An organization without purpose manages people and resources, while an organization with purpose mobilizes people and resources. Purpose is a key ingredient for a strong, sustainable, scalable organizational culture. It’s an unseen-yet-ever-present element that drives an organization. It can be a strategic starting point, a product differentiator and an organic attractor of users and customers.”

It’s time for organizations to be more articulate when describing themselves and their company culture. In today’s job-hopping world, being able to attract and retain employees is what sets market leaders apart. Take the time to understand your culture, portray it accurately to job seekers, and attract the candidates that will work well in that environment. Be authentic about who you are upfront, and you’ll see employee engagement and retention rates rates soar.

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