Company Culture: Use the Force

What’s your company’s culture?

The word culture is a hot term in business and for good reason.  Creating a company culture allows everyone to be on the same page and establishes a strong sense of community within your organization.

But a culture of a company isn’t a bunch of words placed in a strategic plan and laid to the side to review once every 12 – 18 months.  Think of it like “The Force” in Star Wars.

Obi_WanIn the words of Obi Wan:

The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us…it binds the galaxy together.”

Lay the Groundwork: Learn About the Force

In Star Wars, The Jedi answered to the Jedi Council.  The Council laid out the purpose of the Jedi and reinforced the values of using the Force for good, not evil.  As mentioned before, everyone has to be on the same page.  Similar to the Jedi Council, this starts with the top of your organization and must work its way throughout the company.  Three keys to laying a strong foundation are:

  • Vision Statement:  This must be a quick statement that visualizes what your company is and, more importantly, what your company wants to achieve long-term.
  • Values: Establish a set of values that complement and lead to your vision statement.
  • Standards: Create a list of standards that people follow and abide to on a day to day basis.

As your organization lays out this foundation, get input from you entire staff.  This establishes a strong foundation by allowing everyone to be a part of the culture.

Communication is Key: Remember Your Training

When Yoda was training Luke Skywalker, Yoda would always communicate why something was important.  He would push Luke’s limits while constantly dropping knowledge about The Force.

I once worked for a bank chairman who said it took 27 different ways to say something before someone understood it.  He would communicate the same message over and over until everyone in the company not only knew what he was talking about, but would also communicate the same message.

By no means was this chairman a Jedi master, but he did prove a valuable point: When it comes to creating and building a culture, the more communication, the better.

Verbal

  • Company Group Meetings
  • Department Meetings/Huddles
  • Sales Training
  • One-on-One Coaching Sessions

Written

  • Strategic Plan
  • Emails
  • Intranet Articles/Internal Company Blogs
  • Job Descriptions

It takes a combination of verbal and written options in order to effectively communicate your message.  Be creative and consistent with how you communicate the importance of your company’s culture.

Expect Friction: Beware of The Dark Side

Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they.  – Yoda

darth-vaderWhatever your culture, it must be positive and encourage your staff to grow professionally.  This is not an easy job and a times people within the company will question and even fight the company culture.

As frustrating as it may be, you have to find out why people are against your company’s culture.  There are certain factors that can lead to anger, fear and aggression.  Here are a three comments you may hear and experience.

  • Change isn’t easy (Fear): The majority of people don’t like change.  That’s why it’s important to have constant communication and keep communication open by listening and responding.
  • Don’t like the direction the company is heading (Anger): If someone states this, then make sure they understand why the company’s focus on culture is necessary.  If they understand great.  If they still don’t like it, then you may want to suggest they work for another company that aligns with what they want.
  • I don’t care and I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing (Aggression): This is a combination of point 1 and 2 but can come across more aggressive.  Start by communicating, as mentioned in point 1 and if that doesn’t work, follow up with a more serious conversation, as mentioned in point 2.

Let’s face it, your company already has a corporate culture. The real question is: are you leading your company’s culture or is your company’s culture untamed and hurting your company?

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About Jeremy M. Price
For twelve years, I had the pleasure of working in community banking. Starting in customer service, I worked my way up to a senior level marketing and human resources director. It was great leading teams that improved strategic initiatives including, but not limited to brand awareness, digital communication, employee development and product development. This experience has now led to an exciting role with CRS Data. As the Product Marketing Analyst, I am currently reviewing the company's banker suite product. This product is able to help community banks reach their fullest potential in real estate lending. I am extremely fortunate to share time with my son while enjoying life in East Tennessee. The two of us enjoy the views of the Smokey Mountains, eating good food and having fun. During my free time, I enjoy running races, traveling and listening to great live music.

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