How would your employees describe the culture of your small business?

Corporate culture isn’t just something big businesses need to think about. Even small businesses have cultures that both employees and customers experience. And those experiences affect critical success factors such as employee satisfaction and retention, productivity, ability to innovate, and customer satisfaction and loyalty.

In a survey of 1,000 American workers conducted in 2010 by Ipsos Public Affairs-Randstad, a marketing research firm, two thirds (66%) said they believe company culture is very or extremely important to the success of their organization, including 29% who find it extremely important.

The researchers also asked people which of four categories described their company’s culture, as defined by authors Terrence Deal and Allan Kennedy in Corporate Cultures: The Rites and Rituals of Corporate Life:

• All Hands on Deck Culture: Everyone works as a team no matter your title or

position; the focus is working together to get projects done. This was selected by 38% of respondents.

• Process Culture: It’s all about data, grids and forms; the culture lacks creativity, but focuses heavily on the procedure and bureaucracy. This was chosen by 18% to describe their company culture.

• Work Hard/Play Hard Culture: Fun and action are the rule; employees take pride in work and its quality, but don’t miss opportunities to enjoy time with co-workers. Sixteen percent said they work in this type of culture.

• Tough-Guy, Macho Culture: Getting the job done is the focus; feedback and constructive criticism reign and you are expected to know what you are doing with little or no direction. This type of culture was identified by 12% of respondents.

One in six (16%) say that none of these categories described their company culture. And in terms of company size, those working at smaller organizations (100 employees or less) were more likely to describe its culture as the “All Hands on Deck” approach (41%), while those at firms with over 100 employees were more likely to say their company has a “Process” culture (26%).

Which category would your employees use to describe your company’s culture? If you’re not sure, perhaps you should ask!

Elements of a corporate culture

If you have some doubts about your corporate culture, this survey offers additional thoughts in a section in which surveyed employees identified the elements they felt contributed to company cultures. Most notably, these elements were employee attitudes (69%), effective management (64%), strong trust relationships (57%), being customer-focused (55%), and high accountability standards (50%). Employee attitudes and effective management are the top two elements across all demographic groups in the survey.

Others important elements include: a commitment to training and development (47%), compensation and reward programs (45%), support for innovation and new ideas (42%), useful resources, technology and tools (41%), and an emphasis on recruiting and retaining outstanding employees (40%). Very few (6%) feel that none of these elements are important with regard to company culture.

How do you think you’re doing in those culture components, especially the five mentioned most often, employee attitudes, effective management, strong trust relationships, customer focused, and high accountability? This list could well serve as the basis for building a stronger, more effective culture for your small business.

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