The ‘C’ Word

‘Culture’ is a term often discussed but poorly understood, what exactly is a good ‘culture’… MICHAEL PHILLIPS

Michael Phillips

By Michael Phillips

For most people in business the ‘c’ word is one that tends to grate on a lot of owners and managers. When said, it puts a shiver up the spine of most managers trying to get the best from their team. The ‘c’ word I’m referring to is ‘culture’.

This is one of those terms that is used so loosely in all business contexts now that it has almost lost meaning. It’s kind of like a teenage couple and the word ‘love’. They use it so many times without really understanding it, until it becomes like any other word.

Let’s think about the word culture for the moment. This goes to the heart of your business – your personnel. Think about when economists talk about market ‘sentiment’ and consumer ‘confidence’ – these are all forms of culture.

If the culture is poor then you really have an uphill battle to get the most from your organisation. If the culture is strong, then everything will flow a lot easier. Staff are happier, managers are happier and most importantly, customers are happier too. Good culture is infectious and can set you aside from your competitors. Have you ever heard of a business being successful that has a bad culture?

We all can determine what bad culture is, from football clubs to over zealous investment banks, the organisations with bad cultures tend to suffer in the long run. The difficult part is determining what makes a good culture.

Characteristics of a good culture are as follows:

  • Integrity – This comes from the top and filters down. As they say, a fish rots from the head down.
  • Dedicated work ethic – Employees passionate about the business, their role and their colleagues
  • Stimulating environment – Employees that are challenged, have great opportunities and are rewarded for merit
  • Flat operating structure – Hierarchies tend to promote false competition and ‘silos’. People must all be part of the one team and rewarded accordingly.
  • Minimal bureaucracy – Red tape and convoluted decision making processes make for a tired, slow and restrictive work place
  • Innovation – Promote and reward ideas. You should always be asking ‘why?’.
  • Change – Don’t get stale. Drive change continually and this will promote innovation and stimulate keen personnel
  • Involve employees in decision making

By striving for the above, you will you get the best from your staff and the business – you will have an environment which people want to be a part of. It’s a term that people have grown to hate, but don’t forget about culture. This is the soul that will determine if you are around in five years or not.


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