Corporate culture is an incredibly powerful factor in a company’s long-term success. No matter how good your strategy is, when it comes down to it, people always make the difference. Not paying attention to culture undermines performance.
The most important thing about culture is that it’s the only sustainable point of difference for any organisation. Anyone can copy your strategy, but nobody can copy your culture. So don’t leave it untended!
If I ever learned something from the past years working for a major corporation is the “Corporate Culture” vision.
For many years I worked as an independent consultant for various companies offering my services on a short-medium basis. It was clear that the duration of my mandates provided little time of adaptation to these firms’ own culture. when I joined as a full time employee my actual employer, many people knowing my field of activities were curious to know why did I want to leave consultation and its realities for a 9 to 5 full time job, knowing all the benefits but also the challenges this new status I would be confronted to.
It took about a year and a half to answer this question, it was then clear to me, regardless of the nature of the mandates and assignments, I needed to understand but also endorse the company’s own culture. This gave me the most valuable opportunity to progress and of course to accomplish the goals management was expecting from me.
Looking at it from the outside, we might think that moving from a consulting to a structured hierarchal status could not allow me to a high level of flexibility. That was somehow true for the first couple of years. I had to learn challenging moments (at least to me and to my independent nature), I learned I had to report to someone on a regular basis, I learned that the reporting manager may not agree with me even if I was the expert on the skill I was hired for, etc. Temptation to quit was a constant concern, however the more things needed a high level of adaptation the more I was discovering what was beyond this situation. It motivated me to go further and learn more about the firm. This lead me to communicate with more people learning more about what kept them so dedicated to keep employed in such a structured organisation. From the lowest level in the hierarchy to the upper management every person I met (I was privileged to meet with amazing people who became more than just colleagues), every one was convinced they were contributing to the common goal: the prosperity of the firm! whether it was the internal mail person to a senior executive, I felt I was evolving in a collectivity where the top concern was contributing to the success and prosperity of their employer.
I did discover at that moment what “Corporate culture” meant! This also allowed me to participate in a very active way to some key successes that provided a leading edge in various fields. From an unknown employee in less than 6 years I could claim knowing not less than 5 or 6 thousand people among the 24 thousands at that time!
I admit it was rewarding to have this feeling (the little ego too was very high) but bottom line I knew what was the fuel that kept me involved and highly motivated.
The corporate culture is not something you find in a book, or in a charter, a corporate culture is a matter of people, yes people! People make the whole difference. From a lessons learned perspective, this amazing journey taught me that regardless of where we work, or what could be our position, our contribution is a human thing, such human thing building the corporate culture, vision and inevitably its success. This is when loyalty in both ways takes its full meaning!
Have a great day,
Michel – May 22, 2014