Corporate Culture and your first Clients


As early as 1979 academics were warning on the perils of over-simplifying the understanding of organisational culture. Companies find it difficult to define the terms “organisational” and “culture”, let alone the two combined. The retention of value-adding employees is as important as the need to exceed the break-even point for any organisation – it is people that make an organisation. SMEs are growing in South Africa and this sector has been identified as one player that will improve the economic state of the country. With the growth that is anticipated in this sector, it is crucial for CFOs and business owners to place corporate culture as a high priority. In the ACCA report titled Culture and Channelling Corporate Behaviour, Edgar Schein defines corporate culture is as a pattern of basic assumptions, invented, discovered, or developed by a given group, as it learns to cope with its problems of external adaptation and internal integration, that has worked well enough to be considered valid and, therefore is to be taught to new members as the correct way to perceive, think and feel in relation to problems. While setting up systems that will ensure the smooth running of the business, CFOs and business owners must ensure that the corporate culture of the organisation aligns with the desired outcomes. In essence, CFOs and business owners must consider their employees as their first customers. They need to sell the brand of the company to these individuals so they may become brand-stewards. In order for employees to strive to please customers they need to feel that there is a reward that they get that is close to their personal values. Corporate culture indirectly affects the success of the business. Employees shape their behaviour from the culture that is promoted in the business and transmit this energy when they deal with customers. So it is very important that management is aware of the implications of the right corporate culture and once they have determined this, they need to sell this culture to their first customers who are the employees. Growth Engineering provided 5 quick tips to improve an organisation’s company culture!

  1. First, identify where you’re going wrong. Think about how your organisation would work if your company culture was perfect. You can only make progress if you know where you’re coming from.
  2. Work on communication: create communication channels throughout your company so that key messages are heard by everyone and understood. Get everyone on the same page! For example, an intranet or a Learning Management System can provide you with the means to communicate with all your employees.
  3. It is clear that being engaged at work and having a good company culture are linked. Increasing engagement can help to bring about a culture change.
  4. Encourage employees to take pride in their work by rewarding them for great effort. This can be done by introducing an element of fun into work and by utilising gamification techniques– more on this next time!
  5. Finally, invest in learning, training and increasing employee knowledge. If employees feel that they are valued enough to receive training, they’re more likely to be happy at work and be willing to work towards the values of the company.

In the ACCA report, we learn of three factors that promote employee commitment to the organisation: autonomy, the mastery of one’s work and the relatedness of personal values to the work they do. CFOs and business owners must ensure that the corporate culture of the organisation appeals to these factors and that effort is put in in selling the culture of the organisation to its first customers, the employees.

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