The Value of Organizational Culture

So much has been written about the importance of culture in an organization. According to a 2015 article in Forbes, “Culture: Why It’s The Hottest Topic In Business Today describes the value of culture and how to better establish and reinforce it and why it has become a recruiting tool. As Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast” and if you’ve been lucky enough to experience an amazing company culture (directly or indirectly), it is so true.

Last week we held our annual sales kick-off that brings our fast-growing organization together for a few jam-packed days of learning, collaboration and a little fun, too. We worked hard in sessions but also had scheduled activities for team building that included a rodeo round-up, horseback riding and skeet shooting (the pictures say it all). In sessions we talked about what makes our organization strong and what beliefs helped us form the team we have today and it got me thinking more about culture. What makes a strong company culture? How do you develop one? Can you even develop one?

Take a look at today’s piece in the Huffington Post, “WTF is Organizational Culture.” Organizational culture is not casual Friday, it’s something deeper. Here’s the definition of culture by as written in the article:

 “Organizational culture is a system of shared assumptions, values, and beliefs, which governs how people behave in organizations. These shared values have a strong influence on the people in the organization and dictate how they dress, act, and perform their jobs.”

At ANNUITAS, we believe so much in our culture that a few years ago we made cards with our values on them, laminated them and handed them out to employees. I have mine tucked away as do many of us. These principals shape what we do, who we hire, how we work and help guide decisions we make.

manifesto clipped
Why is culture so important? It should be pervasive – touching all aspects of an organization. Just ask anyone who has left a company due to a poor cultural fit. You can fix or change many things, but the culture of an organization is generally there to stay because leadership drives and enforces it. It’s an amazing thing to experience an exceptional organizational culture. Work hard to perpetuate it if you have one today and run fast to another organization that better aligns with your values if not. Culture really does eat strategy for breakfast.

Author: Erika Goldwater CIPP/US @erikawg is Vice President, Marketing for ANNUITAS