Corporate Culture – The Invisible Side of an OrganisationPosted by On October 29, 2015

›Company A and Company B both spend thousands of dollars on planning new initiatives and rolling out marketing campaigns to drive their businesses forward.  Company A’s results are dismal and Company B’s are a roaring success.

Why are some companies more successful than others?

There are many reasons for performance variance, but it is increasingly clear that a major component is their corporate culture.

Company A’s initiative came face to face with a culture barrier and failed. Company B’s initiative on the other hand was carried through by a high performance team and succeeded in meeting it’s targets.
What is corporate culture and how can it have such a powerful influence on your business?

Corporate culture is often described as the invisible side of the organisation, or the atmosphere of an organisation. Kennedy and Deal describe it as the perception of “The way things get done around here” .

Ravasi and Schultz (2006) say that organizational culture is a set of shared assumptions that guide what happens in organizations by defining appropriate behavior for various situations. It is also the pattern of such collective behaviors and assumptions that are taught to new organizational members as a way of perceiving and, even, thinking and feeling.

Following on from this definition and looking closer to home, what defines the behaviour in your own business? What kind of behaviour is taught to new members entering your business?

If you are the boss, then the buck stops with you! In Tom Peters’ book In search of Excellence he says that changing a culture boils down to the “100 little things” that take place in a day. Everything we do as leaders communicates a message. If we are to change a culture, we must become acutely aware of what we do and the message it communicates. We must get off of autopilot.

So if you are banging your head against the wall and feeling frustrated about failed initiatives, high employee turnover or poor follow-through, think about your corporate culture. Are you greeted everyday with a motivated team who shares in the company values or do you walk into a working environment that feels tense and breeds conflict, where lack of communication is a common complaint amongst employees?

To understand what your companies current culture is, look out for the following:

  1. What gets attention in the business? Is there a common thread of what gets attention and what get’s sidelined?
  2. Take notice of people’s behaviour. How do your employees conduct themselves around fellow colleagues and visitors? What are the dominant management or leadership styles?
  3. What are the hero stories? What do your employees talk about? What behaviour, values and actions are seen as important? Remember, there are company values and then there is reality. Don’t be blindsided by what things should look like, but look at what is the reality.
  4. Employee turnover figures. What are your exit interviews telling you or should I say not telling you? What are the common threads running through the feedback?
  5. Employee satisfaction surveys. Does your business do them? If not, how do you know how your employees are feeling about working for your business?
  6. AAR – After Action Reviews. Is reflection time encouraged and set aside everyday? Are  behaviour, actions and decisions made in line with the company values and desired corporate culture?
Corporate culture is not something to be shelved and ignored. It is an integral part of your business. Corporate culture can very easily make or break your business.
Nicole Coyne



Business coaching

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Nicole Coyne

Nicole is a certified professional coach as well as a certified trainer, advanced assessor and coach mentor. Based in Auckland, she provides a range of coaching options, from individual business owner and management coaching, group and team coaching workshops to personal coaching. Her coaching practice is aligned to the ICF ethos and ethics. Need to hire a professional coach? Contact Nicole