Why Should We Care About Company Culture?
It’s more than just in-house massage therapists (we see you, Google), pooping in a porta-party for a “one-of-a-kind bathroom experience” (hi Zappos), or free meals (yup, that’s us) - culture articulates your brand through your people. It shows your audience your brand values through real people and interactions, which is one of the most powerful moments of building brand loyalty.
The Harvard Business Review’s Frances Frei and Anne Morriss explain culture as “tell[ing] us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas, and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is, of course, most of the time”.
Earlier this summer, we developed an 18-page Culture Manual for one of our clients, Numinus Wellness Inc., a network of high tech, integrative medical clinics that achieve transformational health through controlled experiences within a therapeutic model. With Numinus’s acquisition of a Vancouver-based integrative medical clinic, they gained over a dozen new employees who had yet to be exposed to the Numinus way of working. With that, the Numinus Culture Manual was born.
Relying on the previous work that we’ve done for Numinus such as the verbal identity, visual identity, and brand book, we were able to create this book that pays homage to vintage encyclopedias and botany books while maintaining a clean, modern feel.
Ask yourself this - are you dealing with a system that is complicated or complex?
(No, they’re not the same thing. Yes, we know Marriam-Webster Dictionary says they’re synonyms but Rick Nason, a finance professor at Dalhousie University’s Rowe School of Business and the MIT Sloan Management Review say different and we’re Team Dalhousie/MIT on this one)
In a complicated system, there is one specific outcome. There may be many steps and the problems can be hard to solve but they are addressable with rules and recipes. This could be the algorithms that place ads on your social media feeds or coordination of staff scheduling, payroll, and holidays in an organization. Complicated systems are dealt with using policies that can be contained within a policy manual.
On the other hand, a complex system has no single right answer. Often times, there are too many unknowns and interconnected factors to reduce to rules and processes. Requiring the guidance of values, culture is the system for dealing with complex problems, such as determining if a new hire is a good culture fit for your organization. It’s also a way of responding to unprecedented situations. This is where a culture manual becomes necessary.
A culture manual is a concrete way of defining something that is often nebulous so that everyone from the CEO to the new intern is clear about the company culture. This document should include a company’s shared values, vision, mission, and purpose in order to shape decision making and behaviour while upholding certain ethics. It may also include rituals, habits, behaviours, and language guidelines that shape employee interactions internally and externally, and align your people with your brand.
To have a great brand you must have a great culture, and to have a great culture you need to clearly define it with a culture manual.
“With a single, unifying drive behind both your culture and your brand, you reap the benefits of a focused and aligned workforce.” - Denise Lee Yohn, Why Your Company Should Match Your Brand
Your culture and brand should be driven by the same purpose and values. When culture and brand are misaligned, you could end up with happy employees who are producing the wrong results. You should know what to do and how to act in order to achieve what you stand for in the world. By cultivating a strong, brand-led culture, your employees will be empowered to embody the values of your organization while being able to interpret and reinforce these values for themselves.
Does your brand have a Culture Manual? Contact us to find out more.