Business “culture” is a phrase that is frequently used, but it’s a hard-to-describe idea. Let’s take a look at what it means for you and your business.
Webster’s dictionary defines ‘culture’ as the “knowledge, beliefs, behaviors, and traits” that a group of people have in common. We don’t have to travel to foreign lands to get a sense of different cultures. Every business has a unique and distinct culture. A business’ culture can be hard to pinpoint, but usually we “know it when we see it.” Or, more accurately, we might know it when we feel it.
Have you ever walked into a meeting and realized you were the only one wearing a suit when everyone else was in jeans? Can you recall a time among colleagues who were using industry acronyms and ‘slang’ and all you could do was guess at what they were speaking of? What happens in the first few minutes of a meeting in your business – do you get right to the agenda, or is there a 10-minute chat session before the meeting begins? Those are all examples of how we dress, speak, and act in our business – or, they are examples of business culture.
Considering your business culture might help you when it’s time to reinforce what’s working, and attempt to change what isn’t, in your business. When you think about your business culture, can you answer these questions: Who has the biggest influence in this group? Who do others listen to? What do people care about? Which behaviors get rewarded and which behaviors are frowned upon? How do decisions get made?
Answering these questions will help you better understand your business culture – the beliefs, behaviors, and traits that members of your group have in common. Whether we’re referring to a business or a foreign country, culture is difficult to describe but easy to see; it is hard to define but ‘felt’ by us all. Think about the culture you have and the culture you want, and make sure the culture reflects the important beliefs, behaviors and traits for you and your business.
By: Tara Kuipers, University of Wyoming Extension Community Development Educator, Northwest Area