An Enduring Company Culture

Is your business thriving in this economy? If so you and your leadership team most likely have already defined and developed a company culture where you allow employees to grow and contribute to the company success.

Is your business slow or struggling in this economy? Perhaps you and your leadership team manage by intimidation, beating your people down on a daily basis.

In the December 2012 Deloitte Culture survey, the numbers showed a slight disconnect between the executive and employee ranks when it comes to believing strongly that their company culture is widely upheld within their own organizations. The Deloitte survey made me wonder what causes a company culture disconnect and how can an organization define and develop an enduring company culture? For an answer I turned to Patrick Lencioni and John Warrillow.

John Warrillow of Built to Sell, interviewed Patrick Lencioni, author of Getting Naked about what a company must do in order to have an enduring company culture. Lencioni noted three steps that allow a company to have an enduring culture.

1.  Figure out who you are – not who you want to be
You have to start by understanding your company’s core values. Think Zappos or Southwest and how both these companies have a unique culture.

Once you have identified your core values, make sure you stay away from the list of words that you aspire to. Pick the core values your organization embodies NOW. Pick one or two values that truly represent who you are today, this way all of your employees can embrace the vision.

2.  Be picky when you are hiring and promoting
Once you know who you are as a company, make sure the entire organization embodies those values. Lencioni says ‘Your goal should be that 100 percent of your people embody the one or two values that make your company special.’

3.  Stay involved in hiring
If you are a business owner, you should be involved in hiring, don’t delegate this to someone else even though you may want to.  Lencioni believes it is the company founder’s most important way to ensure your new hires embody the company’s culture.

Developing your company culture should not be viewed as a touchy feely exercise.  The world is littered with companies that started out with great cultures and great people, only to be purchased by a company with a crummy culture. If your leadership team doesn’t operate from the core values and your employees are allowed to operate any way they please then your company could go the way of the dinosaur too.

**Watch Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh discuss culture with Squawk On the Street March 7, 2013