From time to time, many businesses find themselves in serious trouble. Problems with manufacturing, distribution, finance, technology, and human resources can be damaging to a company’s bottom line. Many of these problems can be traced back to weak or negative company culture.
Company culture is sometimes derided as a buzzword, but the concept is vital to understand. The POWERS consulting firm explains what company culture is, how a negative culture can cause problems for your business, and how a consultant can help your company reshape itself to deal with a challenging business environment.
What is Company Culture?
Culture is the unspoken social order of any organization. It involves the way problems are solved, the way people are treated, and the way a business operates with regard to its human capital.
Positive company culture has a deep impact on how a business is run. When the company culture is conducive to productivity, everyone in the organization is working toward a common goal, from the C-suite down to the entry-level employees. Employees at all levels know that they will be treated with respect and consideration for their personal skills and talents.
Culture is shared among all employees in a company. It is pervasive and affects more than one level of the organization. Employees’ mindsets, assumptions, and motivations are an unseen aspect of company culture. The way companies handle problems, the way they celebrate group milestones, and the way they onboard new hires also help to make up company culture.
Having a positive culture makes customers and suppliers more comfortable with doing business with a company. Knowing that their requests will be handled fairly and promptly goes a long way toward improving a business’s reputation.
While the way that people interact is a well-known facet of company culture, many people are less aware that a company’s response to change is also important. Some businesses are set up to absorb necessary changes, while others will give a significant amount of pushback against it.
Traditional businesses are more likely to have stability as their primary cultural characteristic, while newer and more agile business models are better prepared to handle flexible conditions.
Problems with Negative Culture
When a company is run poorly behind-the-scenes, customers sense it. Think of going to a restaurant and hearing the sounds of fighting and profanity in the kitchen. You will be less likely to return to that restaurant because their negative culture likely makes you feel uncomfortable.
Poor company culture can lead to poor performance. When performance metrics are held up as the only motivator for a business, employees may have trouble staying motivated. It is better to employ a business model where all of the players feel that they have something important to contribute to the whole, and that they are not just cogs in a machine.
Another aspect of a poor company culture that must be addressed is inconsistent management. A poorly drawn-up organizational chart, with unclear lines connecting employees and responsibility, can muddy the waters.
Even worse is when an employee reports directly to two different supervisors, and when these supervisors are continually battling over the employee’s time and attention. This can lead to rapid employee burnout and expensive turnover. It is far better to make sure that an org chart is clear, concise, and that all managers respect it.
For example, if a manager wants to use an employee from another department, they will need to clear it with the direct supervisor first and make sure that the employee has the time to complete the extra request. Otherwise, the employee will experience a building feeling of resentment against their direct supervisor and against the other manager in question.
How Business Performance Consultants Can Help
When management feels that a company is struggling, they often bring in consultants to try to repair the problem before it is too late. They could call in different consultants for the business areas that are having the most trouble.
POWERS believes that most business problems boil down to a company culture that is lacking. Improving company culture means reshaping it from the inside out. Consultants need to be experienced enough to get through to employees at all levels.
Too often, consultants sweep in, say that they are going to change the company culture, fill the room with buzzwords, and walk away. Everyone is left unfulfilled and the problems continue. To truly reshape company culture, a holistic approach needs to be taken. This may take longer than a superficial change, but the time spent is worth the effort.
Meeting with employees to determine their biggest concerns is a great way to start. A confidential survey could be another way to begin. This will mean that an employee doesn’t have to worry about their complaints getting back to their supervisor and causing retaliation.
Benefits of Improving Company Culture
When a company has a positive culture, they will be better able to meet the challenges of today’s business environment. Their businesses will run more smoothly, and they will be more financially secure. It is understandable that many companies are on shaky ground financially, but a positive culture can keep the existing employees focused and on-task.
POWERS believes that changing company culture is the key to improving business performance. Understanding the nuances of company culture is a must for promoting best practices in the workplace.