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Does your company have a personality?



by Marjon Meyer

To answer the question, does your company have a personality?, it is important to have a clear understanding of what is company culture. Company culture is defined as a shared set of workplace beliefs, values, attitudes, standards, purposes, and behaviours. It reflects both the written and unwritten rules that people in an organisation follow. Your organisation’s culture is the sum of all that you and your colleagues think, say, and do as you work together.


In other words, you might say that company culture is the personality of an organisation.


Why does company culture matter?

Every company’s culture serves as its cornerstone. Employees are more likely to like their employment if their wants and ambitions match those of the organisation. This can give employees the impression that they’re at the sexiest party in town since they enjoy where they are, are surrounded by wonderful people, and are eager to stay put. A corporation with a human focussed culture places an emphasis on its employees rather than on the products it produces or the money it makes. Well, this all depends on which model your company culture is built on. Below I will focus on two models that we see most in companies, namely two western business cultures.


The American Business Culture

Employees are typically very driven by their professions in the primarily individualistic business culture of the United States, often focussing on title and position within an organisation. In terms of age or corporate hierarchies, there is not a strong cultural commitment or obligation. Factors like company loyalty, personnel quality, and technical proficiency are likely to go unnoticed. American businesses, for instance, frequently employ “whizz-kids” who possess specialised knowledge but lack job experience.


Americans tend to work longer hours than other Westerners, though not always by choice. Executives often closely monitor absenteeism and productivity of employees. In some workplaces, there can be a social pressure not to take leave unless necessary.


In business, Americans often come out as very amiable and approachable individuals. Partners feel comfortable enough to trust them and offer their opinions when they work with them because they frequently present a relaxed company atmosphere, which isn’t always the case. Americans do not often want to develop personal relationships with business colleagues, even though they are frequently quite kind and inviting. Depending on the sector, business is generally considered to be exclusively professional and to have little to do with one’s personal life. So, be mindful of how much of yourself you reveal in this relaxed setting and how it could compromise your privacy.


Few opportunities may be given for getting to know new business partners beyond the initial greetings. Because of this, it is advisable to focus on building your reputation or brand with them. They’ll be more intrigued by your background, credentials, and company’s history.


Be aware that most commercial talks and agreements are supported by strict legal oversight. Risk management is labour-intensive and litigation, and contracts are frequently stuffed with provisions that could hold the other party legally liable. Always study the small print and make sure you comprehend a document from front to back. American businesses frequently use litigation to resolve conflicts.


In business, Americans can exhibit opportunism. For instance, if there are significant rewards, people could be more willing to take a risk. Because of their upbeat mindset, Americans may come off as neglecting real issues or aiming for unrealistic ambitions. Avoid assuming this because it rarely happens.

After all it is about making money.


The European Business Culture

The following statement pretty much sums up the European Business Culture,

“Don’t change your culture or convince others to change theirs. Instead, find common ground in understanding each other by respecting and embracing cultural differences. In general, good partnerships require a lot of effort, permanent evaluations, feedback, and an open mind.”


The European business culture is people centred; I believe that this has been created because of their multi-cultural approach. Consequently, policy is formulated which tends to offer strong employee assistance programs, with policies that help employees balance family and work (for example, flexible time arrangements and maternity / paternity leaves are commonly used). Families are considered and frequently included in business activities in nations that place a high value on relationships (they go to company picnics and other corporate events).


The European model largely supports a relationship focussed partnership when conducting business deals, it not only looks at the deal being completed but also has a vested interest in how the company they are doing business with treats its employees. A huge shift away from the American model.


Consider your company culture

Whilst the two models discussed above are generalised reflections, I am certain that these are representative of the business cultures from these two large economies. Each culture possesses its own pros and cons. Which culture/model do you prefer?


Consider the potential business benefits of a human focussed culture below:

  • Higher engagement and productivity. Employee engagement in their work increases when they are content. According to a Gallup study, organisations with high levels of engagement are 21% more productive than organisations with lower levels of engagement.

  • Greater creativity and innovation. More invention and ingenuity. Employees that are engaged and productive are motivated to suggest novel solutions. Higher-quality services and products can give businesses focused on innovation and creativity a competitive edge.

  • Improved morale. Even amid difficulties, content employees who are a part of a human-focused workplace culture that values and supports them are more inspired to perform at their highest level.

  • Greater ability to attract top talent. Top talent is attracted in great part due to company culture. If your company is known for having strong principles and fostering growth, candidates will be eager to apply for jobs there.

  • Higher retention. Employees who feel valued and devoted to your company will do so when you demonstrate that you care about them. Long-term commitment is something that your people will seek. After all, motivated workers are 87% less likely to leave a company where they feel appreciated. Consequently, the expenses of turnover-related recruiting and training will be reduced.

  • Increase in revenue and profits. Employee engagement can increase profits because motivated staff members frequently put more effort into giving customers exceptional service. Companies with high levels of engagement outperform lower-level organizations in profitability by 22%, according to the same Gallup findings.

  • It’s widely acknowledged that company culture can have an enormous impact on business outcomes. In a recent company culture survey, an overwhelming 94% of respondents agreed that the business culture is related to their organisation’s success.


You must first recognise the current culture of your business before making any changes. Unaware of it or not, every organisation creates a corporate culture. Culture develops and changes on its own, even if nothing is done. That’s why it’s so important to work toward building culture at work in positive ways that align your organisation’s ideals and goals with everyone’s behaviours.  In Part 2 (to follow soon) we will look at Improving your company’s culture.


Should this article have resonated with you, and you want to discuss training or coach options, You are welcome to contact us for an appointment.




Marjón Meyer is a Talent and Learning specialist, an Organisational Development consultant, a Corporate trainer & speaker, and a Coach & Therapist. Find out more about her work by visiting her website www.marjonmeyer.co.za, or connect with her on marjon@marjonmeyer.co.za, or phone +27 82 883 2425 to request more information on your training and coaching needs.

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