Posted on Apr 10 2013

Company Culture

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Cultivating strong teams and company cultures is a huge challenge, and few get it right.  Most employers value skill and experience over integrity and team building.  Most job seekers value potential and pay over values and beliefs.  It’s no wonder there are more failures than successes when it comes to company culture.  As a business owner or leader, it’s more important to hire people who share similar beliefs and values versus hiring solely for skill.  And as an employee looking at prospective companies, it’s more important to join an organization that aligns with your biases and priorities than one where you can rush up the corporate ladder.


Simon Sinek, author of Start With Why and professor of strategic communications at Columbia University, highlights trust as the basis for how communities and organizations grow: “Trust comes from a sense of common values and beliefs.  When surrounded by people who believe what we believe, we’re more comfortable to take risks, experiment, and explore.” (From Business Insider, April 8)


The foundation of a company culture is rooted in alignment around a common goal.   When the entire organization knows and believes in the goal, something special occurs.  Take Nordstrom for example.  Customer service is not just a cliché or a strategy; it’s woven into the fabric of the company culture.  It transcends beyond the customer standing at the cash register in the shoe department.  It influences what the executives, the buyers, the tailors, the janitors and administrative assistants do every minute of every day.  Every decision the employees make is put through a filter of “How will this help serve customers?”  The employees believe in customer service and their interactions with each other and customers are a direct reflection of that.  Good customer service is not something that is taught step by step and ultimately checked off the list.  It is a result of hiring well-intended people and trusting in their ability to treat people well.   The management team, including the Nordstrom family, reinforce the goal of customer service in everything they do.  As an employee, the purpose of the company is crystal clear.


There is something magical about how the Nordstrom’s feel toward the customer that just connects with the employees.” (Puget Sound Business Journal, Dec 1, 2000)


What it comes down to is mutual respect and trust.  When employees and companies share a common vision and set of beliefs, the internal culture is alive and well.  Positive culture inspires confidence, promotes risk taking, and pushes companies to excellence.  Success is not accidental.  It’s the result of capable people in an inspiring environment doing great things.



**Featured image courtesy of cbc.ca

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Loretta Soffe - Principal