Corporate culture: How to build and develop it

Corporate culture: How to build and develop it

“Corporate culture? Yes, it’s important these days, but we’ve already established it.” This, or something similar, might be the reaction in many executive suites when asked about in-house corporate culture. But how can corporate culture be established, but also lived, shaped, and developed? Doesn’t it have to be reviewed and adapted from time to time?

Even the definition of corporate culture is complex. The American organizational psychologist Edgar Schein distinguishes between three levels: Structures and processes in the company, values, and the underlying assumptions. In addition, there are, among other things, qualitative cultural typologies that differentiate, for example, according to internal structuring (power culture vs. personal culture) or the respective cultural values, for example, with regard to customer or employee orientation. But a distinction can also be made between problem-solving culture, learning culture, or creative chaos culture.

Does investment in corporate culture pay off?

The fact that the development and establishment of corporate culture should be given top priority has been accepted by management. The extent to which this also contributes to increasing profits is the subject of (scientific) studies time and again. These include studies by John Kotter, professor emeritus of leadership management at Harvard Business School, and James Heskett, also professor emeritus at Harvard Business School (Corporate culture and performance, 1992), but also the Bertelsmann study “New perspectives on sustainable success through corporate culture” in 2015 and many others.

Building corporate culture: Building trust is part of it

As a manager, it can make sense to be coached in order to reflect on one’s own behavior together with a coach. Regular employee surveys also offer the opportunity to compare self-perception and the perception of others and to measure this part of the corporate culture. What kind of climate should prevail in the company? Does everyone feel responsible for the company? Are there unwritten laws?

Appreciation, openness, and room for autonomy are the top priorities for many employees and potential new colleagues today. Corporate culture is therefore crucial for employee retention and an important factor in the battle for skilled workers.

Managers should therefore build a culture of trust in which it is possible without hesitation to go to the boss with health complaints or the desire for a better work-life balance and ask for a confidential discussion. Conversely, a manager should act as a role model and, for example, talk about his or her own children – even as a man. The study “How father-friendly is the German economy”, conducted by

Prognos AG on behalf of the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, recently showed how much catching up there is to do.

Who fits in with us?

Despite the shortage of skilled workers and managers, it will become increasingly important for HR to find out who fits in with the corporate culture or who would be suitable to bring about a change in it. Whatever the task may be: As an HR consultancy, we must find out who could fulfill it. To do this, we first want to understand and empathize with the existing culture and customs. To do this, we look around on-site and listen carefully to the employees. It is very important to get to know the people and companies personally. In discussions with candidates, we can then point out possible pitfalls and, conversely, also recommend to the companies that they should not pretend.

About InterSearch Executive Consultants

InterSearch Executive Consultants is one of the leading personnel consultancies and specializes in the recruitment of executives (Executive Search) and systematic analyses of executive potential (Management Audit / Executive Diagnostic) in Germany. Founded in 1985 under the name “MR Personalberatung”, the company is now represented in Germany with three offices in Hamburg, Frankfurt, and Cologne and was a founding partner of InterSearch Worldwide in 1989. Today, InterSearch operates worldwide in the field of executive search with over 600 consultants in more than 50 countries with more than 90 locations.

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