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.”
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 a nightmare 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.
Now, the question arises, how do we change the corporate culture? And before you even try to answer that question, first you must ask the question, can the corporate culture be changed? Because the how makes no sense without the can. Finally, you must assess your role in changing the corporate culture. You have many factors to consider such as:
How big is the organization?
How large is the inertia?
Who are the influencers?
What can you do?
Should you stay or leave?
Let’s take a deeper look at that first factor concerning the size of the organization. Although not formulaic, you absolutely must understand the size of an organization when you are attempting to change its corporate culture. Your knowledge of the organization’s size will drive all aspects of your strategy and process for corporate culture change.
The kinds of challenges a multibillion-dollar corporation presents will not be identical to the kinds of challenges a 20-employee small business presents. The larger the organization, the higher the tendency for the current corporate culture to be solidified, regardless of how good or bad it is. The larger the organization, the more important it becomes for the changes to emanate from the top down. Without an executive-level commitment and execution, the changes simply will not catch fire at the middle-management level and down to the bench level.
If the organization is small- to medium-sized, that does not mean that these dynamics are absent, but simply that their speed and style may vary. Your approach will still need to be tailored to connect more effectively with people at various levels. The task is not necessarily any easier. In fact, it could be harder because the smaller the organization is, the higher the possibility for one stubborn individual to create roadblocks to the entire process.
Size never tells the whole story. However, it does remain a significant factor in your strategy and your process. Everything about your strategy and process will need to be adjusted to the size-specific assets, limitations, and unique opportunities of that organization.