The Heart of Company Culture: It Starts with You
Company culture is a set of values and beliefs that form the foundation of how we treat people within an organization. It lives in everything we do—from how we carry ourselves as individuals, to the quality of service we provide to customers. It is the heart of the organization. But where exactly does culture come from? Does it just appear or is it planted? How is it maintained? How does it grow?
Birth of Company Culture
Simply put, culture comes from the heart of leaders. Culture can been viewed as an extension of leaders. It is not an intellectual cognitive understanding, but rather something that is contributed from the heart of leaders and is felt. These values and beliefs show what is essential and needed in order to be successful within the company. In order to develop a thriving culture, leaders must take an active role in molding key beliefs and values into the organization—creating that core and assuring that every interaction can be linked back to those defined values.
Living out Values
Especially in small organizations—specifically startups—culture is felt and lives out in every set of transactions and interactions. When beliefs and values are lived, a culture is transformed. For example, the Utech team has the value of being compassionately connected. Even something as simple as checking in with one another illustrates this value of connection—to be in touch with ourselves, each other and our clients.
Our culture really takes shape when we see dissonant reactions in each other’s faces, behavior or even tone of voice. We make consistent decisions to be positively and gently intrusive into what’s going on, in order to break down barriers. Barriers not only prohibit people from connecting to you, but stops you from connecting with yourself. Because of this, we actively encourage employees and clients to address barriers so that connection can happen.
There’s a relational-emotional component within everything that we do here. We validate compassion and caring and do this consistently. Our value to connect brings out compassionate responses in ourselves and others, which helps bring about resolution. Even in difficult situations where people may be arguing and fighting, we always make a conscious decision to move forward.
Document – As organizations grow and more people are bought in, what was once simply known now has to be defined. With this in mind, documentation becomes a key component in keeping culture alive. Leaders must define company values. This includes expectations on how people within the organization are treated, as well as how interactions—both internally and externally—should commence.
Note that these values can be redefined as the organization grows and changes. As a result, it is essential to document these changes as well.
Reinforce Culture – As companies grow, it becomes even more important to practice what you preach. Although every interactions plays into the company culture, leaders are the ones who people will turn to for guidance. Thus, it’s important for them to set the groundwork and lead by example. Consistency in living out heartfelt values is what creates culture—within an organization, within the structure of an organization and with customers and the community.