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Company Culture

Company Culture—How it can Make or Break Your Business

by Abby Portugal on and last update on May 14, 2020

If managing your company culture is not mentioned in your business plan yet, don’t feel bad. This concept has only been around since the mid-1900s and gained prominence as recent as late 1990s.

But now you can’t ignore it any longer. Experts believe it can influence as much as 30% of corporate performance. So, if you want to fast track your business success in 2020, this may be the key to reach your goals.

Let’s break it down to help you incorporate this into your plans for the next 12 months.

Corporate Culture Defined

In short, corporate culture refers to an underlying set of beliefs that drive behaviors and determine how individuals interact at work. It can be called your business’ ‘personality’ and affects many small details such as:

  • Dress code at work: Do you have a relaxed approach to work where people feel comfortable wearing casual clothing? Or do they wear suits and ties as proof of your performance culture?
  • Office setup: Do you promote teamwork by having a communal office, or does each person work on his or her own, prompted to perform as individuals?
  • Client services: Do you put the client first in everything you do?
  • Operating hours: Is it part of your culture to respect employees’ personal time, not asking them to work outside office hours?

Why is it Important?

Your culture affects various aspects that affect long-term outcomes in your company:

  • From the examples mentioned above you can imagine that your company culture affects how content your employees are working for you. Not all workers like being bothered after they left the office. By creating a culture that benefits your employees you ensure their work satisfaction, loyalty to your business and a low employee turnover rate.
  • When certain employees don’t like your company culture it can affect their productivity. Someone who prefers working alone may not appreciate being forced into an open office setup.
  • Workers research company cultures and pick where to apply for jobs accordingly. If your culture isn’t attractive the exceptional talent out there may not want to work for you.

Some Examples

Let’s be clear: no two companies will be exactly alike. But chances are you’ll fall into one of the following categories:

  • Conventional: With a defined hierarchy these companies are often successful but there’s not much room for experimentation.
  • Horizontal: A flexible, collaborative approach to business where someone’s title doesn’t matter much. There is a risk of losing direction easily.
  • Elite: Those trying to change their industry in innovative ways. This approach can put too much pressure on employees to push the bar and perform.
  • Progressive: This is often a result of mergers. It can give birth to new ideas but be careful not to let employees feel insecure due to a lack of routine or job security.
  • Team first: Companies that care about their workers’ happiness. Note that new employees must match the mold to prevent conflict. It’s also difficult to manage as your business grows.

One culture isn’t necessarily better than the other, but you must ensure your company culture aligns with where you see your business in 10 years’ time. If you want to be at the forefront of new innovations, make sure your employees know you prioritize creative thinking.

Identify your current culture by analyzing your business and talking to your employees about their experiences. Then decide whether there’s room for improvement.

And that brings us to the practical aspect: managing your corporate culture.

Managing Corporate Culture—6 Important Areas

Realize that certain aspects of your business are beyond your control. A country’s political culture, its traditions and even the economy will affect businesses in a certain way. But consider these six aspects of your business, make a few changes and you’ll be surprised at how it impacts how you operate:

  • Vision: Create and communicate a vision and mission that represents the kind of culture you want.
  • Place: What is your office setup? Does it support how your want your team to work? Together or alone?
  • Story: Culture is also about how people feel about the place they work. Sharing the story of your company’s history affects people’s view of it and how loyal they are to you. Tell the story often and help people feel proud of what they’re part of, also sparking the desire to continue that story.
  • Values: List important values so it becomes easy to align decisions and help you create the culture you want. If ‘customers’ is a value and you communicate it to your team they’ll know that it’s important to handle them with respect. When ‘employees’ is a company value, those in charge of HR will know it’s important to find salary perks that benefit the team.
  • People: Make sure you employ people who fit your unique culture.
  • Practices: Review your hierarchy, policies and practices. Do these enforce the culture that is best for your long-term plans?


You may not see change overnight. But the small changes you make now will determine how your company performs years from now.

Manage your culture better from now on and enjoy the outcome.

Governance and Leadership
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