6 Company Culture Myths Debunked
While improving and changing company culture is nothing new, I still get faced with assumptions about what company culture is, and how it impacts the business.
These myths mean that many businesses are afraid to take the steps necessary to create a culture change – which is a shame when culture has such a significant impact on business success.
I truly believe that many of these assumptions are either down to a lack of knowledge about company culture, or a fear of change. The big ‘what if’ can lead even the strongest leaders into hiding, fearing that any change could be detrimental rather than positive to the business.
To settle those fears, and provide a deeper insight into the positive results of improving company culture, I’ve debunked six of the most common company culture myths I get faced with.
1) Culture is only the ‘fun’ stuff.
I understand why people believe that culture is just the fun stuff – it has a reputation for only focussing on social events or the company ‘work perks’. You see it time and time again, companies ‘showing off’ their culture on social media – they’re either having a day out or covered in fancy dress. So it’s easy to assume that the ‘fun stuff’ is what culture is.
However, as I’ve revealed before when highlighting the nine core elements of company culture; company culture covers areas that are a lot more detailed and knowledge-driven than just the company days out.
Yes, there are elements of fun, but ultimately much the change around of company culture is about getting the processes right in the organisation. These processes need to lead the mission and values of the business as well as creating an engaging workplace where employees feel motivated, driven and supported.
2) Culture is only ‘owned’ by HR.
HR managers or directors are often left to manage the company culture change on their own, but this solo mission is what the military would term – a suicide mission.
While HR should be the ones supporting change, they also need the leader and the team onboard as well.
Leaders need to be the ones driving and encouraging culture change. Otherwise, HR looks like their changing things without the input of leadership. And if it comes across in this way, the team won’t be bought into the changes either.
Employees need to be onboard because they need to give feedback on the changes and be provided with a voice of input. Changing things without consulting or getting a sense for the changes desired, can mean many of the culture changes can end up being irrelevant to the team’s needs.
Don’t be misled into believing that all the action and direction should be done by HR, they are the cultivators, but change cannot happen without leadership and the team being onboard.
3) Culture changes only need to happen once.
It’s commonplace in companies to make a culture change, and then make no other changes for months or years.
However, this one-hit-wonder approach can leave employees feeling disengaged with the company culture, and the culture becoming stagnant and outdated very quickly.
Change happens. People change, the world changes, technology changes and all of this will have a direct impact on your company culture.
By regularly checking in on your culture, and creating a roadmap of changes, and when to audit and review the culture, you create an agile culture that can adapt to change, and move with the times. You end up creating a strong and robust culture rather than one that needs a complete overhaul every five years.
4) It costs a lot of money to create strong company cultures.
Big brands such as Google and Facebook have a lot to answer for when it comes to company culture – because they’ve made great company cultures look unattainable unless you have a huge budget.
But the truth is, it doesn’t take a lot of money to build a strong company culture. In fact, it takes more time than it does financial outlay.
When getting feedback from your team about what they would like to see in the company culture, you may be surprised that it’s not all rewards packages and pay rises. In fact, much of what people want in their workplace is to be able to do their work to the best of their ability and have some form of flexibility.
Put more time into getting the basics right, before you try to cover culture cracks with financial incentives.
5) There is ‘one’ right kind of culture.
There is a tendency to question whether your company culture is ‘right’, and I believe this stems from the trends and fads that are so often marketed in the area of company culture. From quirky social events, treat boxes, to benefits. There is an overwhelming amount of products and services that claim to improve your company culture and help to make it ‘right’.
However, what’s right for one business may not be right for another. Your company culture should be unique to your organisation, not a copycat.
By knowing your mission and values, and building your company culture around that, you will create the company culture that is right for your business, not just right for the trend of the moment.
6) Culture has nothing to do with business goals.
Work surrounding company culture continues to get a reputation for not having a direct impact on business goals, despite the amount of data and cases studies that have revealed the link between culture and business success.
As we all know, if you want a successful business, you need productive and engaged teams. They are the ones who are serving your customers, selling your products and marketing them. If your people aren’t onboard, your business isn’t going anywhere.
Without a strong company culture nurturing, engaging and supporting your team to be their very best, you can’t move the business forward, let alone try and grow it.
If you don’t have the people, you don’t have the business.
Hopefully, these company culture myths have alleviated your worries or fears about creating change.
When you work on company culture and work on it well, you will see an increase in engagement with your team, and an impact on your business goals.
Don’t be under any illusion that company culture is just the fun stuff. It takes time, patience and an open mind to build a culture that can be agile to the future.