August 2018 Features

Organizational Culture: Your Company’s Personality Defines its Culture


Written By: Tracy Wright

For many, organizational culture sets the fundamental values of a business and can be thought of as an organization’s character or “personality.” New research has shown how employees attribute personality characteristics with organizational culture and how that can affect their view of the company and affect their performance – having an impact on communications, performance, employee satisfaction, hiring and retention and more.

A 2017 University of Florida study examined employee cultures, namely, cultures of joy, love, fear and sadness, and linked the emotional culture to the quality of employee-organization relationships. The results showed that the organizations’ emotional cultures of love and joy positively influence employee-organization relationships whereas cultures of fear and sadness cast negative effects.

“A strong effective culture can create a competitive advantage for a company,” said Rita Men, Ph.D., study lead author and UF associate professor of public relations.  “Not only do its employees feel motivated and proud of the company, the customers or consumers can feel the culture too! Think of Southwest Airlines as an example—culture becomes their brand.”

The study found that organization’s emotional culture characterized by joy and compassionate love, affection and warmth, can meet employees’ psychological need for mutual respect, care, connection and reliance on one another in the organization. Such culture also contributes to employees’ trust, satisfaction, feeling of mutual control and commitment toward the organization.

However, when the organization’s emotional culture and atmosphere is downhearted, discouraged and sad, employees are less likely to develop quality relationships with the organization.

But how can an organization “walk the walk” when it comes to organizational culture and not just publish statements on a website or hang them on a wall?

“To truly incorporate the values into their daily practices, it needs to be done systematically. First, they need to create a set of values they truly believe in. Then, hire people who fit in the culture and train employees to become advocates of the values,” Men said.

Info Tech, a local Gainesville company, offers a variety of products and services for agencies of all sizes, contractors and consultants to enable e-construction initiatives. Most importantly, they pride themselves on a strong organizational culture and tight-knit community.

“Our employees are at the core of everything we do. We refer to our employees as family, and we don’t say that because it’s catchy – we say that because we mean it and live it out each day in the decisions we make as a company,” said Lacey Jones, assistant director of corporate communications for Info Tech.

“Culture is key to creating and maintaining a positive, healthy organization. Without employees, a company doesn’t exist, so we intentionally create a culture that is collaborative, inviting and focused on ensuring employees feel valued.”

Even when designing their headquarters, leaders at Info Tech aimed to build an environment where employees would have collaborative environments that encourage creative thinking and teamwork. Info Tech hosts fun and interactive events throughout the year to boost this type of innovation.

Examples include hosting an annual hack-a-thon that engages employees and their ideas from across the company and a new initiative called LAUNCH!, which is a new platform for employees to explore innovative ideas they have. To further emphasize the family culture, Info Tech also hosts several family events throughout the year, including a summer barbecue for employees and their families.

InterMed, a local company which provides integrated health technology management services, was founded more than 20 years ago as a family business and that line of thinking has influenced their culture from the very beginning, said David Fox, director of human resources at InterMed. In fact, more than a third of their employees have been with their company for more than 10 years.

“The foundation of our organizational culture is to retain the best people we can and offer them a supportive and positive experience,” Fox said. “We really want to treat our employees the same way we do our customers by showing them trust and respect and going above and beyond for whatever they need to do their jobs successfully.”

Fox said that going above and beyond means supporting employees at work and personally. This can run the gamut from funding someone who is continuing their education to helping employees when they face a difficult situation such as family crisis or financial stress.

To truly incorporate the values into their daily practices, it needs to be done systematically. First, they need to create a set of values they truly believe in. Then, hire people who fit in the culture and train employees to become advocates of the values,”

Rita Men

 

“Our culture is such that we really step up to help each other when faced with tough situations,” Fox said. “We are here to support each other. Actions truly speak louder than words.”

Research has shown that if a company advocates two-way symmetrical communication that emphasizes listening, feedback, employee voice, trust, reciprocity and genuine care of employees’ interests, the company is more likely to develop a participative and supportive culture, Men said.

“One of Info Tech’s guiding principles is to be open and transparent, and we model this with employees through several internal communications platforms, including quarterly meetings, email updates from leadership, among others,” Jones said.

“Employees are the heart of a company’s success, so employees need to feel connected to the company’s mission and goals. If your company is a puzzle and each employee is a puzzle piece, then it’s crucial every employee knows how valuable their piece is to the overall success of the company.”

InterMed also appreciates the importance of open communication, especially as their organization has experienced major growth over the last three years, Fox said. They now have employees that live from coast to coast, so ensuring that they have regular, consistent and transparent communications is essential.

“With employees in so many locations, we have to be creative and proactive in our communications with employees,” Fox said. “Every quarter, our leadership team holds town hall meetings where employees can call in or attend in person. Our leadership team essentially presents a state of our business – our news, victories and challenges. We also record it and allow employees to view online if they could not attend.”

InterMed also hosts lunch and learn workshops every Wednesday, which allows employees to interact and gain knowledge from each other and managers. They developed a proprietary three-course series with each part focused on understanding and learning about different things to help make them successful employees, Fox said. The first course teaches employees all about the company; the second course provides expertise on individual choices the employees can make to benefit themselves financially, such as insurance and financial planning; and the third focuses on technical instruction about software used at InterMed.

“Leadership is key to creating and sustaining a positive organizational culture,” Men said. “Leaders and managers should drive this process, set examples and reward those who are doing it right. Top leaders need to make decisions based on or promote their values.”

 

Our employees are at the core of everything we do. We refer to our employees as family, and we don’t say that because it’s catchy – we say that because we mean it and live it out each day in the decisions we make as a company.”

Lacey Jones

 

Both Info Tech and InterMed share these values by making sure leaders are accessible and as transparent as possible.

“In addition to our always open-door policy, we created an i-dashboard that is displayed on screens all over our headquarters,” Fox said.  “It lists our virtual reporting on productivity, efficiency and challenges, as well as hires, discharges and attrition of employees. So, we like to say every employee can literally learn about what is happening today at InterMed simply by reading the walls of our company.”

Culture is created by leadership – what a leader embodies is what the entire company will embody, Jones said.

“Info Tech’s founders, Jim McClave and Tom Rothrock, consistently model a positive, generous culture filled with integrity. This transparent leadership style is also mirrored by our two Presidents, Will McClave and Jamie McClave Baldwin. The example they set creates the standard for the rest of our leaders to follow,” Jones said.

At InterMed, CEO Rick Staab has always set the tone of a positive culture since its founding.

“We have been living our culture and values way before we could have ever slapped it onto a website. It is real and a vital part of our company,” Fox said.

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