Yes company culture is important!
There are many different ways that corporate cultures are created. Founder leadership for many start-ups is so passionate, so inspirational, so meaningful for many employees that they will follow the founder into the foxhole and do whatever is necessary to make it work. For those great entrepreneurial cultures that grow into successful small, medium and large businesses, this passionate approach and the many unique experiences that folks have bond them not only at the company, but for life.
Other cultures are created, not because of the specific leadership or passion of the founder, but because the founder provides a foundation for employees to communicate, to experience success and to win together. I watched a brief video yesterday about Kiva Systems, http://www.kivasystems.com/, a company that uses game-changing automation technology for distribution centers that helps companies simplify operations and reduce costs while increasing strategic flexibility. CEO Mike Mountz mentioned that as new folks joined the company, they were impressed and awed by the culture. But Mr. Mountz did not create a specific culture. Once they had around 100 employees, management asked the employees to define what they loved about the culture and then they worked to establish the operating principles for their business……and their awesome success.
These examples are illustrative of successful entrepreneurial companies that established awesome cultures, but took different paths. For those of us that have had the privilege of working for high growth, fast paced, highly focused organizations, the culture is apparent as soon as you walk in the door. You can just feel the energy, the enthusiasm, the passion of the people focused on two things – winning and enjoying it. Ego’s are checked at the door, employees are solely focused on solving problems, capturing market share and kicking the competitions ass. Simple really.
Many of us have also worked for cultures that are unhealthy, stifled, inflexible, hierarchical and rigid. These companies have arrived here in a variety of ways – a lack of leadership talent, no strategy or focus, short term focus on profitability or a business that fears failure and has no idea how to make it work. This type of environment is all too prevalent in companies that have lost their way, have stopped investing in people and in their business, companies that are relying on repeating legacy successes, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle once again. Headline for these businesses – change or die.
Many of us have also experienced these types of businesses – as soon as you walk in the building you feel nothing; no passion, no energy, no electricity, no hope. It is just painfully obvious to everyone that hope is not a strategy.
Business owners – choose your path and establish a culture of passion, collaboration, honesty and integrity. Your employees will love it and the energy created by your team will light the path for your success.