Workplace culture is critical to success. That’s what forward-thinking business leaders began to realize in the 1990s. Today, businesses that don’t prioritize workplace culture are falling behind.
The idea of cultivating workplace culture for a competitive edge has become a top priority in talent strategy, and it’s a trend we’re seeing across industries. But, even with a heightened focus on workplace culture, it’s still widely misunderstood. Here are the 6 most common misconceptions about workplace culture:
1. Pay and perks drive culture
Workplace culture is all about the social systems that influence behavior within your organization. Every company has a culture, even scrappy start ups that can’t yet offer competitive pay and perks. (What companies like this can offer is the chance to be a part of something unique and meaningful.) Pay and perks are important, but so are other elements of culture, like company traditions, opportunities for growth, and how you involve employees in your company’s mission and purpose.
2. The more employees, the better the culture
When we think of strong cultures, we think of big, successful companies like Amazon and Google and Netflix. But size doesn’t make a company successful. Culture does. Culture is the catalyst that accelerates the growth and success of a business, which is what ultimately propelled Amazon, Google, and Netflix into elite status. Culture can also have the opposite effect, stunting your growth, or becoming severely disjointed or diluted as you grow.
3. Emulating a strong culture will make our culture strong
Many business leaders are hoping to emulate cultures like Amazon, Google, or Netflix in order to achieve success. Borrowing a practice here or there is not a bad thing, but trying to be “the next Amazon” is sure to backfire. Amazon’s culture works because the company has systems in place to attract, select, and retain people who share their values and will thrive in their work environment. Your job to understand and cultivate your company’s unique workplace culture.
4. Culture is what is. We can’t control or manage it
It’s true that culture is deeply rooted and slow to change, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take action to influence or improve your culture. Companies that don’t manage culture end up with cultures that manage them. In fact, an un-managed culture can undermine your ability to execute business strategy. If culture management is new to your organization, start by making culture part of the conversation, and carve out time on a regular basis to talk about culture as a business goal.
5. Reestablishing culture is too costly and takes too much time
Reestablishing culture is a big undertaking, and it won’t happen overnight. But what’s the alternative? A strong culture is critical not only to your company’s success, but also to it’s survival. If culture is misaligned or hindering your growth, then you must make the investment. Even if your company has a strong culture, watch out for culture shocks, like hyper growth, a merger, or an organizational restructure, after which you may need to reestablish your culture.
6. Non-work activities like ping pong are fun, but we can’t afford to lose productivity
Company traditions are an important aspect of culture. Traditions bond employees together and give them the chance to interact with culture in a more tangible way–and the stronger the culture, the higher the productivity. But, that doesn’t mean you need to buy ping pong tables for your office. In fact, don’t buy ping pong tables if you’re doing so to emulate another company’s culture. Instead, come up with traditions that reflect your company’s unique culture and values.
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To learn more about culture change, culture shocks, and culture management best practices, watch our webinar on demand: How to Manage Your High-Growth Culture.