Definition of corporate culture

Published on 04/04/2024

Definition of corporate culture

Published on 04/04/2024
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Definition of corporate culture

The concept of corporate culture may seem elusive, even degraded. An abstraction from more tangible and measurable concepts such as “goals” or “strategies,” yet it is a fundamental concept that brings great value to business organizations and their human component.

What is corporate culture, or rather, “corporate culture”?

Corporate culture, also understood as organizational culture, is a set of norms, beliefs, values, customs, and practices shared by all professional members of the same organization; from executives to employees, from the top to the base of the pyramid.

Corporate culture is built over time and through time, based on precise values, and it strengthens, nurtures, or weakens according to specific behaviors.

It depends closely on the interpersonal relationships among the members of the company; on how they are managed, on the coherence of actions, attitudes, and professional habits, as well as on the identity of the organization and communication within it.

Corporate culture affects the organization’s reputation, the perception of customers and stakeholders, market positioning, brand, motivation of human capital: ultimately, the success of the company or its business initiative.

Building a strong corporate culture is not an easy task and is often underestimated, especially when it comes to employee participation and the exchange of fundamental values or principles.

Every company has its own corporate culture; a set of fundamental principles that guide its actions as a consolidated organization, shape relationships within it, and define communication activities towards the public and the market.

Corporate Culture: Characteristics and Fundamental Principles for Building It

Corporate culture is the ethical and behavioral modus operandi within an organization; the basis of a coherent approach in line with the company’s objectives.

Promoting corporate culture should be one of the primary goals of the Human Resources department, focused on improving human talent within the organization. This path involves ensuring that managers, team leaders, and all collaborators are informed, share goals, and are aligned with planned initiatives. To achieve this alignment, it is important for organization members to understand the fundamental principles that build the company’s corporate culture:

Vision

This term encompasses long-term goals and the company’s projection into the future, rather than just a statement about its orientation.

Aspirations, available opportunities, and the direction to follow are just some of the elements that make the company’s vision a reality. If the vision is clear and well-defined, it will also be easy to communicate and convey to the company’s professionals, ensuring its respect and continuous improvement.

Mission

The mission includes all activities and strategies aimed at making the corporate vision a reality.

To build the mission, it is necessary to focus on concrete and measurable objectives, aimed at seizing and maximizing the company’s opportunities, establishing consistent timelines for their achievement.

While the vision refers to a long-term perspective that cannot be immediately implemented, the mission, on the other hand, mainly deals with immediate needs.

The mission and vision converge in the company’s values, which will be discussed next.

Values

Values are the elements capable of guiding the behavior and approach of the professionals who make up an organization.

They are determining factors, as they affect daily activities and personal habits. In fact, how employees manage their responsibilities and productivity helps optimize the effectiveness of future strategy and the company’s success.

Values must be shared to function as a guide for all staff.

People, the organization’s professionals

People are the organization’s most valuable asset, as they build it; without them, it would make no sense to speak of corporate culture.

Employees should be at the center of the strategies guiding the organization’s growth, giving them the opportunity to improve motivation levels, promote self-management, and job engagement. A sense of belonging to the company can fuel a virtuous circle of well-being, satisfaction, and productive performance.

Talent loyalty, attention to their needs, and professional enrichment are key aspects that drive the success of growth initiatives and underpin the company’s culture.

Work environment

The work environment in a company is also one of the basic strategic elements for creating a strong corporate culture.

The work environment is a reflection of the reality experienced internally by the company, so it must be designed to support daily needs: consider increasingly hybrid and multifunctional workspaces, which simplify and facilitate activities, thanks to innovative digital tools; such as project managers, communication applications, and even time tracking software.

Communication of corporate culture: “the welcome manual”

All the principles mentioned above will have to be adequately translated to the work team and, above all, to its new members. For this, the company must provide a series of instructions, concepts, and guidelines, clearly and concisely.

The company must have a document that provides, to those who need it, tangible information on how to behave in the company, the values that represent it, its vision, and its mission. This “manual,” which does not have to be extensive but rather concise, should be one of the first things a new employee finds on their desk or in their email inbox.

Before writing a document containing the aspects that represent the company’s corporate culture, it is important to work deeply on the points described earlier. But what should this document contain?:

  • A brief presentation of the company; the vision, the mission, and who we are
  • The code of conduct; the values and ethical standards that guide the organization
  • All the benefits and advantages offered by the organization
  • Internal promotion mechanisms and professional growth

Upon finishing reading the document, the professional should have a clear understanding of all the key aspects of their experience within the company and, above all, should know how to behave in different situations.

Why Reflect on Corporate Culture?

Questioning corporate culture in a company and being able to give a coherent definition is very useful in strategic terms.

Having a clear idea of how to operate an organization, how its staff behaves, what situations unite or create conflicts for them, and identifying shared values is not an academic exercise; it is an organizational cultural foundation.

A clear cultural vision is necessary to define a company’s organizational structure; hiring, turnover, salary policies, incentives, careers, behavioral rules, even the “rituals” of small companies or startups.

Business success and growth increasingly depend on cooperation among all collaborators. Personal attitudes can make any business a success or a failure.

Dedicating time to reflect on one’s corporate culture also serves to evaluate whether it is aligned with the competition’s strategies or with the expectations of partners and stakeholders. Furthermore, it is undoubtedly a good investment and could yield unexpected results, along with significant advantages for the organization.

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