Building a Strong Company Culture: Lessons from Expert Network
Culture is not just a buzzword; it is a driving force that can make or break an organization’s future. In the dynamic world of business, success hinges not only on robust strategies and innovative practices but also on fostering a positive and inclusive company culture.
Why does it matter?
It shapes the behavior, attitudes, and actions of individuals within an organization, ultimately influencing long-term plans and progress towards the company’s vision.
We acknowledge the immense significance of culture and its undeniable impact on our success, drawing from our almost 2 decades on the market. Therefore, this article delves into how culture shapes success based on insights from our journey. We explore values, mission, and vision, and how they weave together to form a strong organizational environment.
The Power of Culture
In every organization, culture and strategy are inseparable companions. A strong and well-defined culture aligns everyone towards shared values and goals, driving the successful execution of business strategies.
Did you know?
According to a Workplace Culture Survey, 77% of employees reported that culture influences much of their performance, efficiency and productivity at work. Prospective employees, too, are increasingly considering an organization’s culture when choosing potential employers, as they seek an environment that fosters growth and belongingness.
The Impact of Company Culture
Culture isn’t just a paradigm – it becomes an engine that steers success and sustainability. Here’s why:
- Attracting and Retaining Talent: A compelling culture attracts like-minded individuals who are aligned with the company’s vision, ensuring a committed and motivated workforce.
- Driving Innovation: A culture that encourages creativity and collaboration fosters an environment contributing to innovation and continuous improvement.
- Improving Productivity: A positive work culture leads to higher employee satisfaction, boosting productivity and overall performance.
- Establishing Brand Identity: A strong culture helps carve out a distinct identity for the company, setting it apart from competitors and appealing to customers and investors.
- Maintaining Focus: Amidst turbulence, culture fortifies purpose and direction. A well-defined one provides a sense of purpose and direction for employees.
- Gaining a Competitive Edge: A unique and positive culture differentiates the organization, enhancing its reputation and market perception.
Defining Organizational Culture
At its core, culture embodies the fabric and DNA of an organization. It encompasses shared values, mission, attitudes, goals, and practices that shape the workplace environment. It is manifested in how colleagues interact, make decisions, and carry out their work, leaving a profound impact on overall company performance.
1. Values: Guiding Principles
They are the guiding principles and beliefs that underpin an organization’s behavior and decision-making. Even if not explicitly defined, they naturally influence day-to-day activities and relationships with clients, employees, and stakeholders. Expert Network’s values, for example, revolve around collaboration & trust, passion for what we do, reliability, and respect & integrity.
2. Mission: Purpose in Action
The mission statement defines why an organization exists and how it serves its stakeholders. It outlines current objectives and the approach to achieving them, emphasizing the commitment to both colleagues and clients. Expert Network’s mission centers on designing and delivering valuable software solutions that drive our partners’ success stories.
3. Vision: Future Aspirations
In sync with the mission, the vision paints a picture of the company’s long-term goals and direction. It inspires and motivates employees to work together toward common objectives. Expert Network’s vision involves becoming the leading tech company where passionate people are empowered to innovate and achieve excellence.
Doable steps to build a meaningful company culture
1. Identify the right people: Select those who will own culture definition through research, aligning core values and principles with the company’s vision and goals.
In our case, we gave ownership to our experienced HR Manager, Ruxandra. She evaluated the needs and requirements of Expert Network to help shape our culture and differentiate ourselves from other IT companies in the industry. Based on the results, our leadership team, and our Belgian business partners from Wildstream, refined the values that define us.
2. Consider your mission, vision, values, and strategic objectives: With all data in place, carve out what is the fabric of your business and what defines you now and moving forward.
Our core values were carefully crafted through the analysis of internal questionnaires, aligning our perspective with industry trends. Our mission and vision stemmed from collaborative brainstorming sessions led by our Leadership Team. These sessions were supplemented by a final consultation with our partner in Belgium to refine our direction. Additionally, a thorough examination of our competitors’ strategies enabled us to carve out our distinct identity. This groundwork then laid the foundation for setting our strategic objectives for the forthcoming 3-5 years. We adhered to the SMARTER model – ensuring that our goals were Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, Evaluated, and Refined.”
3. Communicate and Reinforce: Leaders must effectively communicate the values and beliefs to employees, clients, and other stakeholders, consistently reinforcing the desired culture through actions and initiatives.
Our next step in our development meant properly communicating our path, what is important to us, and what supports our evolution. Therefore, we developed our six Core Behaviors, connected to our organizational values. They provide a framework for understanding and talking about the expectations from each of us, at different levels of impact. For example, out of the six core behaviors, one is technical and five are non-technical. We discovered that we can always learn a new tool or a new technology, but if our values, attitudes, and behaviors do not align with our colleagues’, we will never truly perform well together.
4. Lead by Example: Leaders play a pivotal role in shaping the culture. By embodying the desired values, they inspire others to follow suit.
At Expert Network we have a flat hierarchy structure. We don’t care about titles, because everyone puts skin in the game, listens to each other, and looks for solutions, no matter the role. We understand how important it is to connect with each other to work well as a unity, be available to others, and be transparent about what we do.
5. Foster Belongingness: Encourage a welcoming environment that values diverse perspectives and promotes collaboration and mutual respect. It also creates an environment where people are encouraged to bring their unique perspectives and ideas to the table.
In time, we recognized that a lack of diverse and novel perspectives in the workforce limits our organization’s ability to innovate and adapt to constant change in the industry. Imposing only certain rules, and being rigid to other perspectives keeps us solely in our comfort zone. Yet, progress derives from taking calculated risks, staying open-minded, being curious, and being willing to learn. So that is why we do our best to foster belongingness.
All things considered, organizational culture serves as the backbone of a successful company. Expert Network’s journey exemplifies the significance of cultivating a positive, friendly environment, where people are encouraged and supported to grow. By defining values, mission, and vision, companies can create a thriving work environment that attracts top talent, drives innovation, and ultimately leads to long-term success.
In our next blog post, we’ll dive deeper into Expert Network’s growth journey and the role of culture in embracing innovation and modern practices. Stay tuned for more insights.