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Congratulations, You Have a Wonderful Corporate Culture. Now What?

By July 28, 2014 October 28th, 2016 News & Viewpoints

Regardless of how you define culture, one thing is certain: culture can make or break an organization. As Jack Welch famously said after masterminding GE’s corporate transformation: “When push comes to shove, culture eats strategy for lunch.”

How to create culture has been the subject of many books and business columns. Not as much has been written about how organizations can preserve the culture they painstakingly created.

Why does this matter to you – our clients, future clients and partners? Because a healthy work environment allows us to focus on our clients’ end goal.

Stratacomm partners recently acquired majority ownership of the company, once again independently managing and operating the agency. In other words: we sunk a heck of a lot of our own money into the joint. We knew we couldn’t neglect what differentiated us in the marketplace: our culture.

How do we do this?

We knew the only way to preserve our culture was to simplify. If you need flow charts and pages of prose to explain who you are and what you want to be — especially in times of change — it won’t be sustained. How we work at our culture can be boiled down to five words: Honesty. Trust. Respect. Talk. Celebrate.

Honesty. And its cousin, Trust.

Adult conversations are a must. While we give the benefit of the doubt, we are also committed to saying the tough stuff. It’s liberating, on both the giving and receiving end. When you don’t spend your time focusing on trying to figure out what is really going on, you are more productive and happier. And, you have to trust your colleagues have your best interest at heart. There is no room for negative drama.

Respect.

You can’t have honesty and trust without respect. You don’t have to like everyone, but you must respect them. And if a colleague doesn’t have your respect, get to the bottom of why. And please leave your ego at home.

Talk.

Efficiency doesn’t just come from great technology. Arguably, great technology has made us less efficient. Talking helps. Conversations with intonations and opportunity for clarification upfront lead to quicker decision making and less misunderstanding. IM, texting and emails – while all useful tools in their own right – do not count as talking.

Celebration.

For both wins and losses. Wins are obvious, but lessons learned for losses are even more valuable. If you don’t crash and burn once in a while, you aren’t trying hard enough to do something different. Don’t be afraid of failure, be afraid of not learning from a failure.

Why does this matter to you?

When you have a healthy work environment, you can focus on your end goal. We don’t spend precious resources on non-value add activities. We love what we do. We love where we’re at. And you’ll see that in the energy and effort we put forth with our clients.

Culture and quality of work are intertwined. And that’s the Stratacomm difference.

Sharon Hegarty is managing director and partner in Stratacomm’s Detroit office.

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