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Culture: The soul of your company

Paul Larkins //January 20, 2012//

Culture: The soul of your company

Paul Larkins //January 20, 2012//

The start of a new year is a time of reflection for a lot of individuals, but it is also a good time to evaluate whether the culture of your company will help you be more successful over the months and years ahead. Although intangibles like creating and maintaining a strong corporate culture and helping employees achieve peak performance often fall by the wayside at busy companies, the truth is, every company has a culture; shaping and nurturing it should be a priority.

Culture: The Soul Of The Company

Culture is more than just a buzzword used in employee satisfaction surveys; it is the multifaceted personality, soul and character of a company. A company’s culture includes concrete aspects of work life, such as compensation, benefits and career development, as well as less tangible aspects like the attitudes, values and behaviors of employees.

So why is culture important? Because together with great operations, a great culture is what contributes to a happy, healthy work environment and helps employees throughout the entire organization reach their peak performance. Importantly, a company’s culture is also an extension of its brand and reputation, and it impacts how clients, partners, investors and other stakeholders perceive the company.

Recipe For Strong Culture
The secret to developing a strong corporate culture is two-fold, equal parts tight-knit community and employing a team of “A” players. Establishing a close community of colleagues creates a sense of camaraderie and belonging and is vital to employees feeling eager to go to work each morning. At the same time, top performers are driven, ambitious, innovating and hard working, and typically excel at working together strategically toward a common goal.

Great cultures are also made up of diverse individuals with different viewpoints, experiences and talents. In fact, recent studies have shown that diversity inspires innovation, drives productivity and increases creativity, all of which help contribute to a strong corporate culture.

Culture: How Companies Get Things Done
Every organization has a culture, whether or not it is created on purpose. Too often, companies are so focused on operational excellence – what they achieve, they lose sight of cultural excellence, or how they achieve it. Because culture defines how employees think, act, work together and what people perceive their roles to be, in essence it determines how people get work done. Ultimately, great culture combined with great operations is the key to corporate success.

Building a strong culture isn’t easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Developing a corporate culture is an active process that is the responsibility of every employee. The culture of the company cannot be “handed down” from the top, it must be developed with the participation and engagement of the entire workforce. That said, without strong endorsement by the organization’s leadership a culture cannot survive and thrive.

At the same time, one of the most important aspects of a strong culture is a great work environment. It is the responsibility of the management team to provide employees with the tools needed – from health insurance benefits and fair compensation plans to the right technology and resources to do the job at hand.

A company’s values aren’t just words to recite, but principles to live by that are deeply ingrained in everything everyone associated with the organization does. Once every individual understands and identifies with the company’s values and strategic priorities, you’re well on your way to having values that serve as guideposts to achieving peak performance, both for individuals and for the company as a whole.
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Paul A. Larkins is president and CEO of SquareTwo Financial, a leader in the $100 billion asset recovery and management industry. He has more than 25 years of experience in the financial services industry and was named a finalist in the ColoradoBiz CEO of the Year mid-sized company category.