Chasing Culture

by , Feb 28, 2011, 4:15 PM
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As companies strive to attain the definition of  business success - profitability, notoriety, market leadership, market share -- there's still one elusive target: company culture. At its best, a vibrant company culture feeds loyalty, collaboration, productivity, innovation and more. While they are a start, zealous leadership and great hiring alone do not create a culture.

Why has it seemingly gotten even more slippery to get culture humming and right?
Because our focus on it battles with a headspace increasingly divided across so many factors, I think it's worth slowing down and thinking about the various realities impacting culture.

1.    Today's career path is anything but linear. In a marketplace populated with different company types and non-traditional hierarchies, the paths of your teams and trusted go-to people may be harder to predict and foster. Nothing is linear or prescribed -- and certain entrepreneurism permeates more commonly than even five years ago. People are taking more risks. No matter how good the relationship feels, you might be your employees' "Mr. Right Now."


2.    The changing representation of HR within companies. Some companies follow traditional models, carefully balancing executive support and staff advocacy within the role of HR. Other companies anoint this role and group with more of a cultural leadership mantle, and charge them with figuring this out. But, the HR "brand identity" is very much in flux within today's companies, and that has its impact. Culture is more of an experiment than it's ever been.


3.    The C-suite might be at odds about culture. Management teams are subject to the same market dynamics we all are and come via their own paths. So,  executives bring with them their own takes on loyalty, longevity, productivity and office culture. This is truer than ever before, since they've probably been more places and seen more shows. This extends to everything from the email ethos of an office to virtual office policies, meeting culture and who gets included in long-term planning.

Add to these realities a mix of stress, distraction, over-diversification and generally all being spread very thin. So we might wonder if we can ever feel the goodness again, within the four walls that used to be able to house a killer culture. Definitions have changed,  and so have the fabrics of our daily business lives and personal worlds. That may be a good thing for creativity -- as long as we adjust to the new, diffuse business environment and cultural landscape on which we all must thrive.


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