Why A Company’s Culture Is so Wildly Important
An organization’s culture is a collective body of values, habits, beliefs, and assumptions that determine how its members behave toward one another and to those outside of the organization. And while organizational culture may seem like an ambiguous theoretical attribute, its effects are quite real, readily apparent, and far-reaching. Every company, large or small, has a culture. Some are deliberately planned, developed, and nurtured while others evolve on their own, like weeds in a neglected garden.
The officers of Cherry Logistics Corporation have always taken an active role in managing and protecting the company’s culture. Chief Operating Officer Michael Healy explains, “We’ve always tried to stay the course in terms of our corporate culture, sometimes making difficult choices in order to preserve what we’re striving to achieve.”
While many individuals may struggle to explain what organizational culture is or to define a specific company’s culture, most people can spot a good culture or a bad one, no matter how or where they encounter it. Sales representatives and customers alike pick up on a given company’s culture through interaction. Employees will certainly pick up on the culture of their workplace and given enough time, they will embody it and treat customers, visitors, vendor representatives, and each other accordingly. This is why it’s wildly important for company leaders, as rightful keepers of the culture, to deliberately establish and maintain the organizational culture that’s right for their respective organizations.
- A company’s mission and vision statements are its reason for existing, the fundamental origin from which everything—including its culture—flows. Everything an organization and its members do either supports or detracts from its mission and vision. The mission and vision of Cherry Logistics, for example, are centered on unification and building relationships, both internal and external, at all levels of the organization.
- Everybody has a story to tell and the way an organization looks upon and tells its ongoing story has a fundamental impact on its culture. Mr. Healy is quick to point out that Cherry’s story is still unfolding but adds, “We began in 2003, operating out of a one-room office in a converted garage. I don’t ever want us to forget that.”
- An organization is a body of people with a purpose. How critical is it for a company to recruit, engage, and retain individuals who can align with and contribute to that purpose? Is it not equally critical for individuals to seek employment with companies whose culture supports their own personal values and vision? “We use state-of-the-art equipment and technology every day,” says Healy, “but that’s meaningless if we don’t have the right people on our team. That’s the kind of stuff that keeps some business owners awake at night.”
- A company’s norms and practices are how its mission, vision, values, etc. are applied in day-to-day operations. This is the physical manifestation of a company’s culture in a way that simply cannot be missed by anybody paying attention. Mr. Healy knows this all too well and speaks of it often. “I love watching it unfold whenever I’m here. It’s why I look forward to getting up and going to work every day.”
It is critically important to understand that while all members of an organization play an active role in its culture, the culture itself is very much a top-down proposition. Consider its origins. The culture begins with the company’s very reason for being, which is something that only its leader(s) can establish or change. For this reason, the manifestation of that culture via the front-line people who interface with customers, vendors, the public, etc. is nothing less than a window to the top office. That certainly appears to be the case with Cherry Logistics.