Glocal, a company based in Kathmandu, Nepal managed a two day event through King’s Multi Dimensional Program at King’s College. The objective of the program was to discuss current business situations, challenges, opportunities in Nepal to guide college students and budding entrepreneurs.
I attended many sessions during the two days and enjoyed listening to the panelists. On the CEO UNPLUGGED – Communication Panel, I keenly listened to the perspectives shared by the panelists and asked a question on company culture during the Q&A session(48:20). Enjoy the video.
Alibaba’s Jack Ma sat down with Charlie Rose to talk about culture, values, growth, innovation, helping people among many things.
Three things that caught my attention are:
1. His focus on company culture
2. His company’s philosophy is Customers #1, Employees #2 and Shareholders #3
3. Focus on helping people
People have options. And if you want to make sure your customers, employees and potential employees think of you as the best option out there, you need to really take care of them and the environment that they work in or will work in.
People want to feel proud of where they work. Highly motivated people want to be around people who are also motivated. They want to wake up each day and look forward to going to work. Their purpose for work at a specific place will be more than just about the money because qualified people can easily find work somewhere else.
Invest in the environment (people, office space, surroundings) and it will yield excellent returns. The environment really matters. It really does.
I once heard something like this at a conference “Culture eats strategy for lunch.”
Right then, I didn’t really understand the full extent of that statement. But then over the years, I have realized how important that statement was. Culture is everything. A company where front line employees are empowered to make decisions regarding customer service problems or queries will most likely solve the problem quicker, earn the trust of a customer or potential customer and will make the employee feel important in the company. On the other hand, if the company culture is about hierarchy where decisions take longer than necessary, then it drives the customer crazy, employees feel helpless and less important plus hurts the reputation of the brand overall.
So what do you choose to do? Take care of the problem fast and make everyone in your company feel important. Or would you rather not do that.
Actually when you really think about it, it starts with the management at the top. Are they really committed to empower their employees? Do they delegate responsibility properly? Do they not only acknowledge and care for their employees through words but also by action? If employees are actually being proactive and suggesting good ideas, a good culture would take into consideration their viewpoints or least hear them. Even if the idea is not implemented, at least the employee feels like they were heard or listened to. But a bad culture would demotivate employees and even make employees hesitant to suggest good ideas or come up with better strategies. Once top management is on board to creating and emphasizing a great company culture, then it all trickles down. And everyone feels important at the company and customers get to enjoy the benefits too.
Every company has a certain ‘culture.’ In some companies, culture is carried out strategically and in others it is there organically. I believe the best companies really care about their so called company culture. These companies understand that hiring the wrong person would be disastrous to the culture of the company. Thus they really want to screen out the candidates who do not fit their culture.
Different industries have different cultures set in place and certain behaviors are to be expected. You do not see people in finance walking around in shorts and a t-shirt. On the same token, you do not see programmers walking around the office and attend meetings in suits. This is because its a cultural and behavioral thing.
I truly believe that building and having a strong company culture is very critical for the long term success of the company. The most valuable asset any company has is its people. Bringing the right people in the company is critical because the wrong person(s) could cost your company time, money and unnecessary headache. So the earlier you focus on company culture, the more you can be assured that the ship is heading in the right direction.
People love to work for others whom they respect, admire or see as an example. It’s rare that you find someone saying I love working at ABC company but I don’t like my coworkers at ABC company. Most people would say I love working at ABC company because I love my team or the people I work with.
I truly believe there is a big difference between someone who says I like to work for a certain company and I love to work for a certain company. The difference is in the use of the words ‘like’ and ‘love’. People who love to work for a certain company are motivated by more than just financial rewards. These people are more motivated by the work, their teammates/manager(s), meaningful contribution, recognition and a sense of self-fulfillment that their work resulted in real impact.
If you really research and try to understand why employees love going to work each day at a certain company, I think you would find an extremely vibrant and open company culture. The people working at these companies are not only passionate about their work but also love working for their bosses, team members and their customers.