Keeping Your Culture

Author’s note: this is part of a long blog series on corporate culture.  Feel free to look back on previous blogs to explore previous material on evaluating, changing and establishing your corporate culture within the business context.

Changing your businesses culture is hard work.

And once those changes start to manifest themselves through your entire business, you need to set in place a mechanism to monitor the culture so that it continues to reflect the values of your corporation.

First, make examining your corporate values part of every employee review process.  Is this employee meeting the defined values of the business?  Are they an example of what we want people to think of as our culture?

Certainly, you need to review the employee’s performance against specific metrics set in place for their job description, but somewhere in the evaluation you must consider how they exemplify your values. They may be a great computer programmer, but if they fail to reflect your values of integrity, you have a problem; and you should not concede your values.

Second, find a way to measure your values. Many faithfully believe the adage: “if you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it.”  Not all values are subject to measurement, but many are.  If your value is community volunteerism, you can account for the number of hours volunteered by your employees.  If your values include being on time and under budget, those are easily measurable.

And even if your corporate values are not easily measured, it is possible to gain a sense of how you are doing using the same process that was used to find what outsiders think of your reputation.  Ask your clients and consultants – they will let you know will you are changing your culture.

Finally, set a date to annually take a hard look at your culture.  Are you living up to the values?  Is the resulting culture the right culture?  Has your workforce changed significantly to necessitate a change in values?  Has your client base or product changed significantly to necessitate a change in values?

And, probably the most important, has your business changed significantly enough – or you personally have changed enough – that the values are not really yours anymore.  Maybe the corporate values have become an aggressive, innovative, over-the-edge climate and you are ready to slow down.  Or the opposite, you are ready to grow, look at new markets and innovations, and your staff has decided on a set of values that is steady, manageable growth in a few market segments, and focus more on community involvement.  Neither of these situations are bad as long as they are recognized.

In closing, think of Matthew 6:24.

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

Once your values are set, they are set for everyone to follow.  There cannot be a plurality where some values are followed and some are not, some people follow some values and some follow others.  These values should reflect the commands of God, but they will also reflect your faithfulness in living in a world where not everyone believes in values.

What makes having a culture based on values important is the consistency and the reliability they impose.

That is why knowing and selectively developing a corporate culture is so important.