We talk a lot about the importance of a healthy “corporate culture” these days, but what does that mean exactly? And how does it fit into the creation and execution of a company’s communications strategy?
First, let’s define corporate culture. In my mind, it is the shared values, attitudes, standards, and ethics that exist within an organization. Corporate culture drives almost every major organizational decision and affects how employees feel and behave. These values offer purpose and direction to their decisions and activities.
When expressed clearly and frequently, employees can easily interpret and internalize a company’s values and purpose. Without this important grounding, however, employees are left to their own imaginations. A lack of adequately expressed corporate values creates a wide lane of possible misinterpretations, which can then be passed along to your customers as well.
So what constitutes the framework for a well-defined corporate culture?
1. First, values. You must be crystal-clear regarding what your organization values and holds in high esteem. This is what provides your team with their underlying purpose for being there.
2. Secondly, attitudes. It is important to recognize and be purposeful about the unspoken messages an organization sends to its internal and external audiences.
3. The third factor is standards, in terms of what your organization will and won’t tolerate. Set the bar high, and employees will respond to that (and vice versa). Adopt clear standards and then communicate them openly and often.
4. The fourth factor that must be woven into all of your communications and internal/external outreach is ethics. Does your organization not just talk about ethics, but also act out ethical decisions and behaviors – all the time?
5. And finally, consistency. Do you display a healthy corporate culture not only in good times, but also in bad times? Cultural alignment requires no deviation from your belief system.
The end result is that your team feels a sense of belonging and comfort, they know they can depend upon each other, and they communicate those positive feelings, both overtly and subtly, to everyone they encounter.
A positive culture begins at the top and impacts every one of your decisions, as well as your internal and external communications, offering complete transparency and instilling trust.