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BW Businessworld

The Culture Factor: Understanding The Impact Of Culture On Business

One must identify those values & beliefs that define the organizational character and enforce those through processes and practices.

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“Company culture is the continuous pursuit of building the best, most talented, and happiest teams we possibly can.”Andrew Wilkinson

Culture of an organization is often times very difficult to describe, as typically it is something to be experienced & felt by those who work for the organization or get associated with it. Culture is like the warps & wefts that weave the fabric of the organization and gives it shape, sheen and character. Another analogy that comes to mind is the rivet of a Japanese fan. The rivet, is the most crucial part of the fan, it holds all the folds of the fan together, enabling it to open up delicately and provide cool respite on a hot summer afternoon; likewise culture is the most important piece of the organization that keeps the organization together, enabling all parts to work in unison to deliver great results.

Culture is what is core to the organization. Culture is the values & beliefs that an organization upholds and it is demonstrated through the behaviours of individuals & teams. The leaders are expected to role model those behaviours and it becomes like the norm within the organization. We have often heard this phrase being told to a new hire - ‘this is how it happens here!’ From informal stories, routines & practices, logos & symbols to formal structures, processes & controls – these collectively constitute the culture of an organization.

And why is the culture so important?

A) It builds strong brand value– An organization strives to build and maintain a uniform brand identity and personality across markets, which is innately related to a brand’s culture. It is something which makes the brand unique and gives it that superior edge viz a viz the competitors. The more the customers admire the brand’s culture, the more they would want to associate with it and become the brand’s ambassadors too.

B) Attracting & retaining talent – A strong brand value that echoes the organization’s culture helps to attract talent too. If the employee’s beliefs & values resonate well with the organization’s culture, then the alignment is strong and the organization would see high retention rates.

C) Organizational success – The importance of culture for organizational success is well summed up by the management guru, Peter Drucker, who said - ‘Culture eats Strategy for breakfast’. Off- course strategies are important; however, culture makes all the difference in implementing those strategies and makes or breaks an organization, especially in tough times.

So, how do you nurture a culture that leads to strong brand value, retention of talent and organizational success?

It is a continuous pursuit. One must identify those values & beliefs that define the organizational character and enforce those through processes and practices. Reward & recognize those individuals and teams who demonstrate the desired behaviours. Publish stories around them. Some such values may be non-negotiable. If those are compromised, take hard decisions. The leaders must be obsessed with building the culture of the organization. It is natural that employees emulate the behaviours of leaders.  Therefore, leaders should at all times ‘walk the talk’ and be the beacons of the culture they wish to be  known for.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

Shikha Rai

Vice President at Canon India

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