Company Culture by Meade McCoy

Company Culture. These are hot buzzwords within the business community at the moment, something talked about in magazines, newspapers, at conferences and in classrooms. Whole books have been written on the subject, and if you Google the term “company culture” the forth result is a page on the culture at Google.

Why is company culture relevant to the trainer, instructional designer, or performance consultant? The culture of a company will impact how we do our jobs and whether we are ultimately successful or not. Culture will determine how receptive employees are to learning, and how open-minded management will be to new ideas or recommendations. An instructional designer should take the culture of a company, or more specifically a department or working group, into consideration while designing a training course. How we do our jobs as T&D or HPI professionals can also affect the culture of the companies with which we work.

This summer when Marissa Mayer was appointed the new CEO of Yahoo one of the first things she did to help save the ailing company was work to change the company culture. In an effort to improve morale and change how Yahoo employees feel about the company and their jobs, Mayer’s has instituted free food and weekly meetings with leadership.

In 2009 Amazon.com purchased online shoe retailer Zappos.com for a little over a billion dollars. Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, has credited much of the company’s success to its unique company culture, he has even written a book on the subject Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose. A company where employees can come to work in their pajamas, fill their cubicle with potted plants, and take a brake for a remote control car race or a karaoke competition, Zappos is all about relaxed fun. Recruiting looks more like a speed dating event (with alcohol) then a search for qualified new employees. Employees are recruited based on whether they seem like they are a good personality fit for the company, and for new employees training is all about culture and what it means to work at Zappos. After their initial training, call center employees are offered $2,000 dollars to quit, this is a litmus test of sorts to see how passionate they are about working for the company (less then 1% take the offer). Zappos culture depends on the company having truly passionate employees.   

Different companies espouse the benefits of different types of cultures, some focus on innovation through competition, while others on keeping the working environment so fun that workers will never want to leave.

But what does company culture really mean? Is it being a company where you are encouraged to be fun and quirky or a company that serves gourmet food for free? The answer is neither. Company culture is about perception. What are the priorities of the company?  What is the company’s style of communication?  How does the company treat its employees and its competition? How people perceive the answers to these questions is what helps form the identity of the company and from that its culture. Analyzing these questions can help you to determine a company’s culture.

What kind of culture does your company have?

Does the culture of your company affect how you do your job?

What kind of culture would your dream company have?

References:

http://www.inc.com/magazine/20080101/the-office-the-bad-and-the-ugly.html

http://www.forbes.com/sites/ericjackson/2012/09/10/yahoos-culture-problem-its-already-fixed/

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_02/b4162057120453.htm

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/03/why-companies-fail/308887/

http://www.inc.com/magazine/20090501/the-zappos-way-of-managing_pagen_2.html

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One Response to Company Culture by Meade McCoy

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is a great post! It’s interesting to hear about the different types of cultures these huge companies have. Reading this really got me off track and I found myself looking into many of the company’s you mention to see what it’s really all about. It does make me feel jealous that I don’t work for an organization that has such great ‘company culture.’

    I think being a trainer for one of these organization would be very fun, but also quite challenging. There would be some pressure on the trainer to create the same type of environment in the training program as they have in their day to day work space.

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