What Do You Stand For? Defining Your Corporate Culture

February 22, 2017 Brian Beattie

As a business leader, how often have you considered another company's success and immediately known that it was largely the result of its corporate culture? Indeed, corporate culture can impact every possible outcome. Corporate culture is not just a function of employee happiness or whether the company has a "cool" workspace. It's deeper than that. Corporate culture includes the values, beliefs, and priorities that underlie every aspect of an organization's activities. It is the foundational context that guides employee behaviour and corporate decision-making. A company's internal stakeholders certainly know about organizational culture - they live it every day. External stakeholders know it too. They sense it through a company's innovation, productivity, and day-to-day relationships. A company's culture impacts the most fundamental aspects of whether a business is successful or not.

Corporate culture influences productivity. Productivity is the key to business success and there is a direct link between culture and productivity. A Harvard Business Review blog post quotes Professor James L. Heskett saying that an organization's culture accounts for 20-30% of the differential in corporate performance.

Great corporate cultures attract and retain top talent. Top performers thrive in environments that value innovation, risk-taking, and achievement. Successful companies go to great lengths to recruit the top performers, then make sure that their organizational processes reward and acknowledge those behaviours that push the envelope and improve customer value.

Great corporate cultures deliver on customer needs. A company's productivity is ultimately defined by its ability to give customers what they want at an affordable price. A great corporate culture nurtures a positive content in which employees recognize that customers are the reason for the company's existence. This value is reflected in everything the company does - and the customers will know it.

Achieving a Great Corporate Culture

Success and corporate culture - these factors are so interconnected that a company's efforts to improve its valuation must start with a discussion about its culture. An executive team should examine corporate culture by focusing on these areas:


A company's values are its guiding principles. They support every decision that the company makes. Companies should make sure their values are stated clearly and repeated often for employees to absorb them into their work habits. Values don't have to be complicated or even original. The important point is that they are authentic and sincere

Visionary Leadership

Corporate culture starts at the top. In any company, behaviour throughout the ranks is greatly influenced by management expectations. However, effective leadership is a delicate balance. An over-authoritarian workplace discourages people from using their own initiative and stifles traits that enhance innovation and productivity. On the other hand, an overly democratic environment lacks focus to keep the company moving toward its goals. Successful companies ensure their executive teams constantly demonstrate their value for innovation, productivity, and the open flow of ideas.


People are the lifeblood of any organization. They bring a company's values to life by putting them into action each day. Their skills, experience, and efforts work together to deliver on customer needs and improve the organization's value. Successful organizations understand this, and develop a culture that attracts top performers during recruitment.

All companies have rules and regulations to guide behaviour. Those guidelines are not just to punish poor behaviour; they must also encourage and reward productive performance. Companies should establish guidelines to ensure that supervisors provide regular and positive feedback, praise, and coaching. Employees will see that the organization values the individual and their integrity. It gives employees confidence to experiment, as their confidence stems from knowing what really counts in the organization. 

Decision-Making and Information Flow

Executives looking at the organizational chart must remember that levels of management and lines of authority are not just for building a large, impressive company. The structure is actually a process for making good decisions. Leaders should ask themselves: is there a free flow of information for decision-making throughout the organization? Does the structure allow for information to be disseminated toward positive outcomes?

Diving into an organization's corporate culture is not for the faint of heart. It takes real leadership and a sincere desire to improve productivity and overall value. However, a company can only go as far as its culture allows. Making sure a company has a winning culture is an essential step to building a true winner.

Your Turn

Does your company have a winning culture? Share with us your experiences with both good and bad cultures. Remember to like, share, and tweet this articles if you found it useful and subscribe to our blog.

About the Author

Brian Beattie

Brian Beattie is the Chief Financial Officer at Volaris Group. Besides overseeing the financial health of the company, he works closely with Volaris’ legal and M&A team on all new acquisitions. Brian is an expert on every stage of the M&A process – from sending out the non-disclosure agreement to executing the sales purchase agreement.

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