5 Top Misconceptions about Corporate Culture

Misconceptions about Corporate Culture Picture of hands rubbing a genie lamp and wishing for the right corporate culture

There Are Far Too Many Misconceptions about Corporate Culture
Too many leaders have far too many misconceptions about corporate culture.  If you believe, as we do, that a healthy, purposeful and aligned corporate culture is what sets a company apart, you should be committed to promoting a culture that works.

Why Culture Matters To Your People and Your Business
We define culture as how things truly get done in an organization.  Culture includes the known and unspoken values and assumptions that drive key business practices and behaviors – especially in leaders and in who they hire, fire and promote.

  • A recent Harvard Business School research report described how an effective culture can account for up to half of the differential in performance between organizations in the same industry.
  • Our own organizational alignment research found that cultural factors account for 40% of the difference between high and low growth companies.

Culture Exists by Design or By Default
But you can’t just magically wish an organizational culture into place. A corporate culture exists either by design or by default. It evolves from the way employees treat each other and can be measured by the way people think, behave and work. An aligned culture can have a significant impact on your bottom line. But you must go about it the right way.

The Top 5 Misconceptions about Corporate Culture
Here are the five top misconceptions about corporate culture that you should know.

1.  Culture is NOT Just About Fun
Sure, people like to enjoy their work and have fun with their co-workers. Fun can be a wonderful part of a strong corporate culture, but what really matters and what keeps employees happy about coming to work each day is a more important and lasting and more purposeful attribute…like innovation, or authenticity, or service, or quality.

2.  Culture is NOT Just About Perks
Perks like free dry cleaning and gourmet cafeterias are certainly appealing. They quantifiably add to the “plus” column when employees evaluate their levels of employee engagement. But unless those perks are connected to a core belief, they lose both value and appeal over time.

External expressions of a culture alone don’t retain employees; a sense of purpose that underlies the organization does.

3.  Culture is NOT Just a Nice-to-have
Culture matters to the bottom line. A positive culture engages employees and reduces turnover. People want to identify with a company that has a strong culture and positive brand. Engagement is symptomatic of high morale and high morale translates into high retention rates.

The opposite is expensive. You pay the price of low retention in higher expenses and performance gaps.

3.  Culture is NOT Just About Behaviors and Values
This trips up even the most passionate culture practitioners. Yes, behaviors and values are an important ingredient for a healthy corporate culture.  Every organization wants to be healthy.  We define cultural health, the little “c” of culture, as how values are lived consistently across the organization.

Those values manifest themselves in observable behaviors.  We believe that organizational health is necessary for success regardless of industry, geography or size.  We measure seven characteristics of organizational health in the areas of:

  • Leadership
  • Organizational trust
  • Individual trust
  • Individual capability
  • Team capability
  • Organizational climate
  • Organizational capability

We also believe that organizational health can be measured on a “good” to “bad” scale.  Organizational health however, is just the ticket to play the game and one component of the cultural fabric.

The differentiating impact comes from the big “C” of culture in terms of its level of alignment with the corporate strategy.   A purposeful and aligned culture is the secret sauce -the DNA of an organization – that determines success or failure.  A purposeful and aligned culture means that teams are operating with the same objectives in mind, and approaching those objectives in the same way.

Because strategy must go through culture to produce results, how the company culturally views areas like customer intimacy, market leadership, focus, risk tolerance, process variation and decision making plays a key role in strategy execution.  Unlike the little “c” of culture, the big “C” of culture is not measured on a “good” to “bad” scale.  It is measured on a “aligned” to “unaligned” scale in terms of its ability to drive the strategy forward in a way that makes sense.

Remember that a high performing culture is about both the little “c” (health) and the big “C” (alignment).

4.  Culture is NOT Just Defined by Employees
Employees reflect the company values articulated and modeled by the organization’s leadership. Culture flows from the top. In companies where leaders understand this, they work to define their mission, what is unique about their organization and how they will treat each other on the path toward their business goals.

Leaders can purposefully design the underlying values and assumptions that drive key business practices and behaviors across the strategic dimensions that matter most.  As a leader, recognize how much organizational culture matters and be thoughtful about how you shape and cultivate it to move your strategy forward.

The Bottom Line
Too many leaders have far too many misconceptions about corporate culture.  A healthy, high performing and aligned corporate culture is what sets a company apart.  Do not fall pray to these four misconceptions about corporate culture if you want to outperform your peers.

To learn more about defining an aligned and high performing culture, download How to Build a Purposeful and Aligned Corporate Culture.

Share:
Facebook Twitter Google+ Email LinkedIn

Comments are closed.

We have been able to utilize LSA’s extensive network of top-notch resources to leverage our investment in employee development. The result has been the cost effective and highly efficient delivery of quality educational and management training programs.

Steve Feller
Vice President, Human Resources

We consider LSA Global our outsourced learning and development partner. We worked closely with LSA to customize a management development program to meet our growing business needs. I would highly recommend LSA to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions.

Terri Wright-Scheer
Vice President Human Resources

For our go to training outsourcing partner, LSA provides exactly what we want. As always, they deliver outstanding work!

Elizabeth Siebert
Director, Organizational Excellence & Development

Intuit

I highly recommend LSA Global to anyone who is looking to improve individual or organizational effectiveness through their top quality programs and broad range of expertise.

Greg Pappas
VP of Human Resources

Harmonic has worked with LSA for over 8 years. We have found their partnership extremely beneficial. We recently implemented a Management Development Program that was designed and customized to support our company’s strategic initiative of hiring, building, and retaining key intellectual property and human talent. We worked closely with LSA to target and implement the right solutions with the greatest impact. I would recommend LSA to any company that’s looking for a trusted training and development partner.

Janice Passarello
Director of Human Resources

Thank you to LSA Global for their partnership and support in helping us to design and roll-out our valuable management development training program. I personally have partnered with LSA Global at four of my previous companies. It continues to be a delight working with LSA. We look forward to partnering with them at Blackhawk Networks for future training and consulting needs.

Suzanne Kinner
VP Human Resources

Blackhawk Network

LSA has been a tremendous asset to my portfolio, both at my current company and my past company. As an HR leader, I am always looking for ways to find external resources that can provide a solution to our management training needs. LSA does that for me. Their solutions are presented in a much more leadership-oriented manner so as to be crisp, business relevant, and easy to apply right back on the job. I will continue to augment our programs using LSA solutions.

Ken Boehm
VP of Human Resources

I have worked with LSA Global at previous companies and welcomed the opportunity to bring them in to support my new organization. We worked closely with LSA to design a solution for our Client Partner Teams and Management Training on both coasts. LSA designed a customized solution for our business and organizational culture. LSA is a quality organization, one that I’d recommend to any company looking for a first class training and consulting partner that makes an impact.

Laurie Torres
Chief People Officer

LSA is an instrumental training outsourcing partner in helping us to build management capacity and strategically invest in our people. Their flexibility, depth, and breadth of expertise allows us to deliver top quality solutions that are directly tied to key business plans. Their ability to custom design, deliver, and evaluate our Management Curriculum has been excellent. They are true business partners and a pleasure to work with.

Margaret M. Mader
Vice President, Human Resources

Hyperion

VNUS Medical has been very pleased with the effective management development programs that LSA Global has delivered for us over the last four years. The programs have been universally facilitated by experienced and best in class instructors. The knowledge gained by our management team has been put into practice very quickly. VNUS is very happy to be working in partnership with LSA because they consistently deliver excellent programs that receive exceptional feedback from our management team.

Cindee Van Vleck
Director Human Resources

LSA provided top notch solutions right when and how we needed them. They exceeded my expectations from a speed, quality, and cost standpoint. I recommend them to anyone looking for a true business partner in the Learning and Development arena. The breadth and depth of their expertise has helped us hit tight deadlines across multiple projects.

Fortune 500 Financial Services Company
Director of Infrastructure & Technology

LSA’s Employee Engagement Consulting and Survey work has provided critical visibility into: how well our people are holding up under the general economic environment, as well as, the specific challenges that face biotechnology companies in their efforts to discover and develop new medicines; their level of alignment and commitment to XOMA’s Vision and mission critical strategies; how leadership practices and management systems support an environment that engender commitment, and the specific actions that our leaders can take to improve on areas that are important to our people. I highly recommend LSA’s employee engagement solutions.

Chris Wells
Vice President, HR and IT

I’ve partnered with LSA Global at two companies now, and I consider them a valuable and trusted training and consulting resource. They recommended just the right solution to address our management development needs and have wonderful facilitators that match YuMe’s culture and style of our management team. I would highly recommend LSA Global to any company wanting to deliver quality learning solutions with a valuable learning and development partner.

Maya Paul
HR Director

We partnered with LSA to pilot a customized behavioral interviewing program to help ensure that we continue to hire the best and brightest as we continue to rapidly scale. LSA’s ability to understand our business and our unique culture combined with their desire to ensure that the best practices framework truly fits our performance environment and is highly adopted by our people is a real blessing. Most other firms want to just ‘give you training.’ Not LSA, they are focused on helping me hit our hiring forecasts and attract A players.

Jennifer Remling
Director of Global Recruiting

AKQA

We signed up with LSA early on–as their 22nd Member! Since then, our organization’s learning needs have increased and decreased and increased again with the changing times. The beauty of the LSA business model is its flexibility…when we needed to supplement our own internal resources, we used LSA services knowing that we could depend on the outstanding quality of the leadership development and management training programs they provide.

Margie Bunting
HR Manager

Evaluate your Performance

Toolkits

Toolkits

Download key published insights and tools from industry experts highlighting best practices in the areas of talent, strategy and culture.

More

Health Checks

Health Checks

Want to know how you stack up against leading organizations?  Receive a complimentary benchmarking analysis courtesy of an LSA Expert.

More

Whitepapers

Whitepapers

Get up to speed on timely solutions critical to your business. Published by LSA Experts based upon client feedback and key industry trends.

More

Methodology

Methodologies

First we identify the key metrics you want to improve. Then we assemble a dedicated team of elite experts who have successfully solved similar problems with similar clients.

More

Blogs

Stay up to do date with the latest information on how we help high growth companies align their culture and talent with strategy.

More

Case Studies

Client Case Studies

Real world consulting and training approaches from LSA projects, providing insights on how your company can outperform the competition.

More