Culture, like water in a fishbowl, is the environment we are immersed in as we go through our day. We may not even pay attention to the cultural norms all around us because they just seem “normal.” Or we may not recognize the elements of culture because we’ve never experienced anything different. As the Chinese proverb says, “I don’t know who discovered water, but it probably wasn’t the fish.” We may be unaware of how culture is influencing our work and our lives. From national cultures to local communities, cultures and sub-cultures permeate our lives and teach us what is acceptable and what is not.
Have you ever noticed each workplace seems to have its own set of norms and traditions? This is often referred to as corporate culture. At the core of corporate culture we find a combination of the organization’s policies and practices, leadership styles of managers, mission statements and values, and employee personalities. These areas and others contribute to the type of culture that is created within a workplace environment.
Corporate culture affects many aspects of how we do our work, how we interact with supervisors and coworkers, and even how we provide service to customers. All of this flows from the culture that is created within the company. Specific divisions or work groups often develop their own sub-cultures, defining how the team works. Some corporate cultures promote productivity and growth while others are stagnant or even toxic for the organization and its people.
Both positive and negative corporate cultures influence attitudes about work-life. For example, some companies perpetuate long work hours and strict devotion to the work above everything else. Other companies promote family-friendly practices that encourage balance for workers and include family members in corporate events such as a family day. These cultural norms within an organization influence how employees do their work as well as how they integrate work with the responsibilities of family and other aspects of life.
While no corporate culture is all good or all bad, it is important to take stock of the type of culture being created. When we do, we can look for ways to make adjustments, improve the work environment and enhance productivity. A strong and healthy corporate culture is a better place to work. It also provides the foundation for building a robust organization that allows the employees and the company to thrive together.
Over the next three posts we will explore the benefits of a healthy corporate culture, the signs of a toxic corporate culture, and how to examine your own organization and make improvements.
Take a look at the other posts on corporate culture:
Please chime in with your thoughts! How important is corporate culture to your ability to create work-life peace?