You’re probably reading this piece because you want to know the data about your company’s culture is related to the day-to-day life of your business and what you can learn from it in order to enable your business’ success. There’s good news on that front: you’re in the right place!
Since you seem to be interested in the topic of company culture in general, you’re probably aware that strong culture is the core business asset that ensures high growth rates (if you are not, please check out this scientific piece on how strong culture drives 5x the annual company revenue). Investing in it is not just about performing better at the present, but also ensuring your company’s capabilities in the future. You may take it for granted that your team is working out well so far, but if you don’t know why and what the drivers of your team’s success are, you won’t be able to stay on top of things and manage your team well in the future, in case things don’t go as planned.
So how can you manage your team’s culture and make the most out of this asset? Easy! Measure it first. In line with “What you can’t measure, you can’t manage” by measuring your team’s cultural drivers, you enable yourself to manage it effectively, and ensure cohesion as your team grows. Most entrepreneurs and leaders are running into same issue, when scaling teams up: when you’re no longer able to directly manage the entire team, then in a matter of months you could find yourself stagnated with no clue where it all went wrong. Don’t make that same mistake, make sure you can steer your team’s culture according to your business strategy, at all levels of your organisation. So, once you’ve read this article about how exactly Bunch affects the outcomes of your business, remind yourself that at the moment strong, scalable team culture is an advantage in the market, but soon it will be an all-out necessity in order to keep up. How long can you afford to wait?
5 Hallmarks of Strong Culture (with Examples):
1. Higher Output and Increased Efficiency
Aligned culture, particularly culture aligned along the adaptable norm, can increase output and speed of deliverables over time. In other words, adaptability is the norm that can most affect the bottom line. As Charles O’Reilly puts it, “[Companies] with higher levels of consensus across many [cultural] norms, as well as an intensive emphasis on adaptability performed better financially.” Adaptable teams aren’t bogged down by changing circumstances, aren’t afraid to find creative solutions in ambiguous situations, or to change when presented with new data. This culture is a hallmark of many successful startups, since dramatic adaptation is often necessary in order for a company to survive its first year.
An example of a company with a high and aligned adaptable culture is: Facebook
Cost of focusing on adaptability as your core value: you won’t be able to deliver pixel-perfect results and stuff will most probably break along the way before you get it right.
2. Higher-quality results and Increased Objective-Completion
Alignment along the results-oriented norm can translate to higher-quality results and increased focus on the accomplishment of targets and milestones. Not to be confused with goal-orientation, results-oriented teams keep the big picture in mind and are open to changing specific goals or strategies in the name of achieving the underlying objective. This norm is especially valuable in sales, marketing, and company growth, where the emphasis needs to be on results.
An example of a company with a high/aligned results-oriented culture is: Netflix
Cost of focusing on results-orientation as your core value: You won’t be able to make it right for everyone. Determined choices and strict orientation towards the bottom-line will most probably upset people along the way and it’s definitely not a cozy, comfortable culture you’re creating.
3. Fewer errors/inconsistencies
Alignment along the detail-oriented norm can dramatically reduce errors and inconsistencies, thus increasing the quality of results. This norm is particularly prevalent in engineering- or product-first organizations, and demonstrates how important alignment is in culture. For instance, having just one team member who is detail-oriented can lead to resentment and tension in the group, as that person might assume more grunt work, such as reviewing all output, while the rest of the team fails to see the value in their eye for detail. Having a team aligned in detail-orientation means a shared dedication to detailed reviews that aim to spot every last bug, typo, and missing oxford comma. This way less energy is wasted fixing mistakes down the road. As Richard Branson puts it: “Instilling attention to detail throughout your new company will prove especially important when the business begins to gain ground. Employees across the business should be focusing on getting it right all day, every day.”
An example of a company with a high/aligned detail-orientated culture is: Apple
Cost of focusing on detail-orientation as your core value: Your path is paved by long tedious corrections and reviews. This is no land for the impatient. Having such an intense focus on details will cost you time.
4. Improved Trust and Honesty Within the Team, More Accountability
Alignment along the principled and collaborative norms affect the bond of the team, the way they hold themselves and each other accountable, and thereby the quality of work and of communication across the board. The effects of these aligned values (honesty, integrity, and accountability) could positively impact all teams. Effective communication and collaboration can even help foster the growth mindset that is so paramount to early startup success (more on that here).
An example of a company with a high/aligned principled culture is: Patagonia
Cost of focusing on integrity as your core value: This fosters the kind of dynamic where you have to be ready to be confronted with uncomfortable moments of truth, especially when you cross a line and miss adhering to a group norm.
An example of a company with a high/aligned collaborative culture is: Twitter
Cost of focusing on collaboration as your core value: Team members will be looking for consensus when making decisions and will require more intense spearing and more input from the team in order to move forward. This will cost you time and can hamper creativity (as ideas can get dismantled in discussions easily). Groupthink is another threat to the team’s performance and success.
5. Higher quality customer interactions.
Alignment along the customer-oriented norm translates beyond just improved customer interactions to impact the way team members solicit and internalize feedback and hold themselves accountable to meet and exceed customer needs. This cultural norm can help foster innovation and individual growth as well, since new and fresh input and new relationships are are consistently brought in from outside of the team consistently.
An example of a company with a high/aligned customer-orientated culture is: Airbnb
Cost of focusing on customer-orientation as your core value: When focusing on your customers and interactions with them, your team will be less concerned with building processes and structure in order to increase efficiency and achieve scalability.