Nov 07, 2019 | 3
Minute Read

Culture: Buzzword or Invaluable Business Differentiator?


One of the most widely used words in the workplace today is culture. Everything seemingly ties into culture, and its importance in creating the ideal organization. So, what the heck is culture anyway, and why is it apparently so important?

As a youngster, “culture” referred to something being “high brow,” or sophisticated, such as understanding and appreciating fine art or fancy architecture. That gave a person “culture.” Later, in biology, we learned that culture is the bacteria that helps create yogurt. And let’s not forget the 80s when the Boy George-led Culture Club brought us one of history’s most forgettable musical acts. So why now has culture gained so much traction and power within some of today’s most successful organizations?

According to Ideo, culture is about creating an environment that makes it possible for people to work together to come up with innovative products and ideas - the same products and ideas that drive revenue.

These folks believe organizations need to be laser-focused on making sure employees feel safe to fail and explore, that they feel connected to others, and that they have what they need to solve problems and come up with innovative solutions. These elements can be the building blocks of a solid company culture. The question is...what can a company do to build a company culture that attracts top talent and drives a productive workforce? Ideo recommends the following:


Define and Build on Your Company’s Core Values

Most companies have core values - ideals they try to uphold on a daily basis. Candidates are often hired based on having core values that match those of the company. Workers who are most in sync with the core values tend to be the ones who set the best examples for others to follow. They are looked upon as leaders, regardless of their actual title.

Chances are, if a person’s personal core values differ greatly from a company’s, it won’t be a good long-term fit. It’s best for a company to place as much importance in matching core values as ensuring the candidate has the proper skills to do the job.


Prioritize Face-To-Face Conversations

If you want to create human relationships, you need to have human interactions. It’s that simple. Technology can help us do our jobs more efficiently, but it will never replace the value of live communication between two or more people. A question that should be asked when using digital communication is “could this be done in person instead?” Keep the human in human interaction.


Encourage an Emotional Culture

It used to be that people suppressed emotions and tried to stay on an even keel while at work. Showing emotion toward just about anything could be viewed as rocking the boat or even being disruptive. Not anymore. Today, bringing emotion to the forefront as part of a company’s culture is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged.

Ideo states, When we feel supported and motivated by our colleagues, we are happier, more productive and stick around longer. We’re also healthier and better able to cope with job stress. And when our bosses respond to our mistakes with patience instead of fury, we trust them more. Emotional culture affects how much we enjoy our jobs, how stressed we might feel and our ability to do work well and on time.

How does a company encourage an emotional culture? Assessments can go a long way in uncovering meaningful insights about employees within an organization that can be used to understand each other’s behavioral tendencies, making it easier to communicate. At TTI Success Insights, we use something internally known as a comparison report as a way to compare the tendencies of two or more workers, to gain a better understanding of how to best work together. Simply knowing a person’s natural tendencies takes the guesswork out of communication, making it easier to adapt the way we approach certain situations.

For example, when using the DISC behavioral model, if one worker has a prominent Influence behavior style, they are likely to prefer to converse, at length. Whereas, someone with a Compliance behavior style will prefer to stick to the facts and details needed to do the job with little interest in small talk.

If these two workers become aware of each others’ preferences, the Influence person can tone down their loquaciousness while the Compliance person can be a little more conversational than they may normally prefer to be. These small adaptations make for better communication and are the basis for creating a better working environment, leading to an improved company culture.


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Dave Clark

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