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What is Corporate Culture

Corporate culture is something I read and think about often. Having worked with companies from start-ups to global enterprises across industries and geographies, I’ve had an opportunity to study many variations of corporate culture. One of the 1st questions I pose to executives I meet is “what is your company culture?”. Responses are varied and sometimes start with “what do you mean?”

So, let’s define it. Culture is a collection of beliefs on which people base their behaviour. The behaviours determine how employees interact with each other, the company and customers. Often corporate culture is not expressly defined, but is implied, developing over time from beliefs and traits as companies grow.

I recently read this quote from Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft:

“The C in CEO is for Curator of Culture”.

It really resonated and defined responsibility for culture development.

In the current volatile and rapidly changing global business environment, companies need and continue to demand more from employees. At the same time, employees expect more from that companies they work for. While US employee engagement is on the rise, it is still low. According to Gallup

  • 70% of US employees are disengaged;

  • 71% of millennials are disengaged, and

  • 50% of employees are actively seeking new positions

Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace. Gallup has found correlation between employee engagement and organizational performance outcomes – “organizations that are the best in engaging their employees achieve earnings-per-share growth that is more than four times that of their competitors”

Ultimately, a healthy culture, where employees can be their authentic selves and feel empowered to succeed, is critical to any organizations’ success.

Yet many organizations reward employees based on competition rather than collaboration, curiosity, knowledge development and sharing. I ‘grew up’ in an environment where I had to prove that I was a better performer than my peers / people on my team were better performers than their peers on other teams, which meant that it was difficult to acknowledge mistakes or gaps in knowledge.

What if CEOs made this possible by creating cultures where people could see their mistakes as opportunities for personal growth?What if CEOs led the way by showing vulnerability and continued learning?

I welcome your thoughts, please reach out or comment.

In upcoming blogs, I’ll be exploring corporate culture further. Let’s discuss vulnerability, learning, performance vs growth culture, how everyone can contribute to positive organization culture.

Looking forward to productive conversations!

Click to learn more about Sofia.



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