by Erica Cosmisnsky
I know, you’re working from home, by yourself, and you are thinking, “Erica, seriously company culture sounds like awful corporate made-up hype.”
Unfortunately you have a company culture no matter what you do. Human culture is the behaviors and beliefs one has from growing up in a certain place, time or with a certain parenting style. Company or organizational culture is quite similar. Your company culture starts with why you are in business.
You might have a family-centric culture, being in business so you can be with your kids during the day and work after they go to sleep.
You might have a super-professional culture (Think 3 piece suit-in an office building).
Some businesses lend themselves to laid-back and casual cultures. We talk to people while we work at the coffee shop in our blue jeans and flip-flops.
Or you could simply be in business for philanthropic reasons.
Directing Your Culture
By defining your business, you carve your culture. Like Melissa Stewart, I specifically work with and support women-owned businesses. My target market is between 20-45ish, usually, moms who are so busy they can’t see straight, and have not previously hired or managed anyone professionally.
Now imagine I get all my clients into a single room. My company culture would require something comfortable and posh. I picture it being a modern hotel party suite with tons of natural light and a great view. My clients are in widely varied fields. A few work for corporations while most are entrepreneurs. They find it easy to mingle, and talk together, whether they have on blue jeans or a cute skirt and sky-high heels, because they have quite a bit in common: growing businesses, small children, fixing organic, clean meals, gas mileage on their SUVs, and frustrations with time.
My favorite part of this mental image is the energy in the room. I seek out and work with women who are passionate about creating things that change the world, even in small ways. These ladies can come together and the whole group will get more done because they get fired up from being around other women who are as passionate as they are.
So what if I don’t jive with my own culture?
My dear psychology degree loves to scream out Cognitive Dissonance all the time. Cognitive Dissonance is the idea that we will try to justify things we know are wrong or we don’t agree with. For example, the smoker who knows that smoking is unhealthy and deadly, will try to justify it by saying all my friends smoke and I’d miss out on social breaks with them, plus my lung function tests are great so I don’t have to stop smoking.
In our businesses, sometimes we get into a rut or an area that pushes the boundaries of our morals. We get asked to do things we aren’t comfortable with and it can be hard to say no. It can also be difficult to pin point where the slippery slope starts toward an different animal you don’t want living in your business. I think this is where quarterly check-ins with your goals and business are essential. You can change your check-in frequency to suit your business. However, if it’s been over a year since you sat down and thought about your direction, it’s time!
I usually do my check-ins every 6-8 weeks. I use a worksheet called the Big Vision Checkup Sheet from Michelle Nickolaisen, Head Bombchelle, and Online Business Manager. You can get it free here.
When you start to see your business slide off track, correct it swiftly. Fixing small problems is insanely easier than having to rebrand or “closing your doors” when you find yourself in a poorly fitting business.
Erica Cosminsky is an HR Business Strategist for small businesses. She can slog through the pile of applicants and help deliver the best assistant to your “office door”, she transforms mile-long to-do lists into manageable bites, and like your best friend after a raging party, she sticks around to offer assistance or clean up any messes, etc.