Corporate culture is one of the most important elements to any organization’s success and prosperity. Inc. has an excellent definition of corporate culture (http://www.inc.com/encyclopedia/corporate-culture.html):
“the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature. Corporate culture is rooted in an organization’s goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to labor, customers, investors, and the greater community. As such, it is an essential component in any business’s ultimate success or failure.”
If we were going to boil down this definition or any definition of corporate culture, we could simply say that it’s all about behavior. Corporate culture means how we behave. Although corporate culture is a sophisticated business, sociological, and organizational development concept, the fact remains that it is all about the behavior. Your corporate culture is demonstrated in the behaviors that happen every day in your organization.
The Inc. definition speaks of the “shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization.” In other words, you will know that people are members of that organization based on certain observable behaviors. The definition cites the “approaches to labor, customers, investors, and the greater community.” That describes behavior.
A valuable exercise is to stop and think about what behaviors you experience in your organization. In so doing, you must face the fact that the behaviors—good or bad—exist because the corporate culture permits them to exist. That is a wonderful situation if the behaviors are good. It is something else entirely if the behaviors are bad.
We are each going to embrace and affirm a good corporate culture or we are each going to embrace and affirm a bad corporate culture. That is a pretty clear choice in my mind. Let’s embrace and affirm good corporate cultures wherever they may be found. When we come upon bad corporate cultures, let’s challenge them and aim to change them. This is a professional, ethical imperative.