Vicki Crowe

Vicki Crowe

Wednesday, 13 June 2012 14:33

Company Culture, Ways That An Australian Small Business Owner Can Define And Set Their Corporate Culture: Start-up Mentor Vicki Crowe

How can I control my company culture?

How can I build a culture within my business where things like swearing, shouting and macho behavior isn’t tolerated?


I’m establishing a very different type of sales house and don’t want these stereotypical attitudes to take hold when I start hiring staff.


Well, I’ve never heard of anyone including those behaviours when they’re developing their organisational culture.


Isn’t it about performance with salespeople?


From my experience, any professional salesperson worth their salt understands corporate etiquette and how to adapt their behaviour.


But, as the business owner, you have the right to dictate the culture in your organisation.


Culture is a funny thing: it is invisible and yet it directly impacts on the way an organisation operates internally and also how it relates to its external environment.


The problem can be that culture is often determined by the leader’s personal preferences and preferred code of behaviour and this often doesn’t suit potential employees. You would have heard of people saying, “I just didn’t fit in.”


A good example is Richard Branson, with his fun loving, friendly and easygoing personality.


In a recent article, Virgin Australia’s CEO, Brett Godfrey said: “Unless you get it right, you can’t restructure culture.”


“You can restructure your business. But if you’ve burnt people or if you’ve killed their enthusiasm or commitment then changing their office spaces or even putting a few more dollars in their pocket will not unduly affect the culture that exists.”


“It’s a bit like the Titanic – once you’ve built it and it takes to the water, it’s too late to change its direction. That’s why it was really important that we got it right from the outset.”


Taking into account Brett Godfrey’s quote above, you need to think carefully before you begin building your culture, as once it is in place it is going to be hard to change.


You also need to think about it objectively rather than subjectively, because you are going to limit the talent you can attract to your business.


Also, before you start building your culture, ensure that you have clearly defined your organisational values, vision statement and goals, as these make up an important part of developing your culture in  “how we do things around here”.


Set some clear guidelines around the culture you want to build in regards to values, attitudes and behaviours.


These are known as norms and are the unwritten rules or codes of behaviour by which people in an organisation or team will operate.


Consider that employees interpret what they should and shouldn’t by your example, not by giving instructions or what you say.


Finally, once you have hired your salespeople, keep an eye on smaller subgroups forming and developing their own subculture, because that is going to have a direct impact on the culture you have worked hard to develop.

Vicki Crowe founded Cannon Recruitment in 1994 and Enneagram Australasia in 2004. Over the past 17 years she has consulted to government, national and global organisations on HR and leadership. 

Ask Vicki or any other StartupSmart mentor a question here.

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