Do you have an office full of people who are happy to come to work everyday? Better still, are they sharing that happiness with their coworkers and clients? Perhaps you’ve even been listed as a “best place to work” by your local business journal. Chances are you got there because from the very start, you focused on cultivating a team of like-minded individuals and providing an environment that inspires them to uphold your values and achieve their best. Even if you haven’t been recognized in the media, if you have happy, highly engaged employees, it’s worth taking some time to reflect on that success.
Corporate Culture: Defined
Maybe you have modernized your office with ultra-trendy Starbucks-style work spaces, break rooms, and Ping-Pong tables; or maybe those wouldn’t be at all productive for your employees or impressive to your clients. The point is, you understand what your clients and employees need—and how those needs align with the company’s mission and values—and you care enough to provide it.
A strong, well-defined culture can have a profound impact on a company’s success, and it has long been touted as a benefit among the best companies to work for.
The Inc. Encyclopedia defines corporate culture as “the shared values, attitudes, standards, and beliefs that characterize members of an organization and define its nature.” I personally like to think of culture as a company’s philosophy about, well, everything.
The Hagberg Consulting Group recommends five questions to get a true picture of a company’s culture:
- What 10 words would you use to describe your company?
- Around here what is really important?
- Around here who gets promoted?
- Around here what behaviors get rewarded?
- Around here who fits in and who doesn’t?
These questions bring about an important distinction between culture and vision. That is, culture is who you really are—good or bad. Vision is who you want to be.
Culture as Content
My last post, “4 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Book” focused on the reasons you should write a book related to the services you provide. That “glorified business card” type of book is best-suited for entrepreneurs, business owners/leaders, and independent professionals seeking to establish themselves as thought leaders and generate more leads for their businesses.
Today, I’d like to focus on a different type of business book, one that will help you recruit top talent and stand out in the marketplace for the quality of your entire corporate ecosystem. This type of book is often referred to as a “culture book” or “culture statement.”
But why does your company need a book that captures and presents all of this information?
5 Good Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Culture Book
- Simply developing a culture book will help you better define who you are and who you’re not, what you stand for and what you don’t. You may even gain new insight about your company as you write it. When you’re finished, you’ll have crystal clarity on culture-defining traits, and a means of communicating them to employees, recruits, and the marketplace.
- Your culture book can help your management and HR teams evaluate a potential new hire for “cultural fit” within your organization. We’ve all made the mistake before of hiring cultural misfits, thinking their powerful connections, top-notch technical skills, or 4.0 GPA will propel them—and the company—to great success. Yet, cultural misfits do quite the opposite. As they struggle to find their place, they can become easily disgruntled and may even put the company’s reputation at risk.
- Your culture book can serve as a strategic guide when you’re setting new policies or implementing new practices. You’ll want to make sure that any new processes, relationships, etc. measure up to your core values and cultural standards.
- A professionally produced culture book will motivate your employees by demonstrating your commitment to the culture they’ve come to love and trust. They’ll enjoy the opportunity to contribute to the development of the content and perhaps to see their own names and faces in print!
5. Ultimately, you’ve worked hard to develop a strong culture within your organization. It’s not just noteworthy, it’s BOOK-worthy!
Developing Your Culture Book
Culture books and statements vary widely in format and presentation because they are some of the most authentic pieces of content companies produce. By definition, a culture book will reflect the company’s own distinct personality.
As a starting point, here are a few ideas you might choose to convey:
- What are your core values?
- How do you communicate them?
- How do you carry them out in practice?
- How do your employees embody them?
- What’s it really like to work at your company (“a day in the life”)?
- Are your employees engaged and happy?
- Are they involved in work that feels meaningful to them?
- Are they being rewarded in ways that are important to them?
- Are they given ample opportunities for growth?
- What differentiates your office environment from that of your competitors?
- Are your working conditions, policies, and practices current, innovative, compassionate, and fun?
For further inspiration, here are some examples of culture books and statements other companies have put together:
- Awesome, Inc.
- The Automotive Training Institute
- Mobile Mini, Inc.
- Identropy, Inc.
- Benefit Focus
One of the commonalities you’ll notice among the examples above is how openly they are shared. Though there are numerous ways the culture book can be utilized internally to strengthen and solidify core values, companies are truly proud of these publications and enjoy sharing them with anyone who may be interested. I personally have a copy of the Zappos Culture Book on my bookshelf. No, I’m not planning on going to work for them (although I definitely would consider it!); I just find the book to be inspirational. (Have you read Tony Hsieh’s book, Delivering Happiness?) Zappos really does deliver happiness, in everything they do. Their culture book is happy; order one and see for yourself!
Feeling the inspiration, but not sure how to get started? Here are a few tips:
- Form a culture book team led by your PR, marketing, or HR director.
- Encourage honesty and authenticity when interviewing a full cross-section of company personnel.
- Design creatively; speak informally (unless that would be counter-culture for your organization).
- Think about the launch and distribution of the book or statement.
- Don’t skimp on production. The finished product is a reflection or your brand.
Does your company have a culture book? Please feel free to share a link to it in the comments!
Image courtesy of stockimages via freedigitalphotos.net.