There is no manual for building a corporate culture, there is communication!
Updated: Jul 13
How to shape an organization’s corporate culture and evolve it has become a hot topic in the corporate world with discussions making their way up to the board of directors and governance bodies.
Although there is a wide consensus that corporate culture is defined as a set of values & principles that will guide its actions and steer its course in the right direction, it is not necessary that these values get locked up in a set of policies and procedures that reside within the human resource or compliance functions. Communication professionals and marketers are the right enablers to continuously promote and shape an organization’s corporate culture.
Here is my humble take on a step-by-step guide that could help you achieve the effective implantation of a desired corporate culture:
Think of Corporate Culture as a Spirit – Put aside the governance manuals, policies and procedures and immerse yourself in the mindset and spirit of your company’s leaders. Seek knowledge about the company’s origins and heritage. Take the leaders on a soul-searching journey and agree with them on the spirit they want their organization to thrive on. Some companies value a culture of ‘work hard, play hard’; others prefer an ‘entrepreneurial’ approach where there is room for new ideas and trial and error. Regardless of the beliefs, what matters is we communicate them clearly the right audience.
When you sense the spirit, describe it as a set of values. What I learned from years of brand building is that corporate values need to be limited to a maximum of five. This will guarantee a set of values that resonates easily and gets remembered frequently.
Promote those values both internally and externally. Once you have defined a set of values, promote them in as many communication avenues as possible both internally and externally. Keep telling the story in external communication be in media coverage, media interviews, brochure introductions, social media posts, website content, and corporate speeches. Similarly, make certain that internal communication reflects the same value system in all its literature as well, from welcoming remarks, brand guidelines, organizational play books, internal emails, and any other direct or indirect occasional promotional messages.
Take advantage of technology. One example would be using virtual hubs to bring the organization member closer and allow them to witness the corporate spirit first-hand from its leaders. In my present organization I worked with IT on upgrading our Video Conference system to allow live sessions across 20 different locations. This has allowed us to conduct meetings with the management and the employees across three continents. It is in the organization’s best interest to allow its employees learn about its values exclusively from its leaders. This exclusivity will help the corporate spirit to spread across the ranks horizontally and vertically in its purest form.
Create a team of culture ambassadors. Corporate Culture must be voiced through the actions of the leaders, the founders, their entrusted executives and people they are in charge of. It is also the voice of those who quickly grasp its essence and buy-in to it. Make them ambassadors; shed some light on what they have to say. Publicize their words and actions. Some examples would be interviews published in company newsletters, social media coverage, and speaking opportunities in company gatherings like coffee mornings and annual retreats.
In closing, corporate culture is a form of a well-planned propagation of an organization's beliefs and values reflected in a form of effective communication seamlessly executed in a timely manner and made available to employees regularly.
It is a discipline that with practice will be perfect!