A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Your Company Culture – Critical to Coping with Market Challenges

The following article originally appeared in the January newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC.  Reprinted with permission.

The phrase “company culture” appears regularly in business literature.  Senior leaders regularly use it too, and acknowledge the importance of having a strong company culture.  But it is worthwhile, as this new and more challenging year begins, to examine the meaning of these words and the actions they mandate.

Google the phrase and you will find many helpful definitions.  Synthesizing, they all contain statements that company cultures flow from the beliefs, values and attitudes of the owners and leaders that result in consistent behaviors toward each other and all company team members toward customers, toward businesses partners and toward their industry and community.  These beliefs and values are also reflected in policies and practices, in compensations and benefit systems and in the business environment.  In summary, company culture speaks to how we do things around here and what you can expect from us both as a company and as individuals.

Cultures need to be consciously created, cultivated and communicated.  More importantly, they need to be lived and demonstrated by actions.  A recent Center for Global Enterprise video suggested that the role of CEO’s and senior leaders, relative to company culture, is that of DAD – design, align, and demonstrate.

Great companies in any industry have great cultures, and that is particularly true of construction companies that are people-intensive, service businesses.  Our Houston construction industry has many superb examples.  In these consistently high performing companies, their culture is visible, tangible and, above all, reliable.  It serves as a magnet for top talent that shares the same value foundations, which ensures that the company can continue to grow and prosper.

Culture is always important, but in the times of challenging and changing market dynamics, a strong company culture is critical.  It allows the company to stay agile and flexible in the short-run, while protecting, even expanding, investments to achieve long-term goals.  Expenses can be cut, including compensation and perquisites, roles can be reassigned; shared sacrifice is understood and accepted.  Team members trust the culture; they know things will be restored when possible.  People stay and dig in to help.

The start of the New Year is a time to reinforce the foundations of your company culture.  Strengthen the culture carriers and eliminate any culture killers.  The markets for the next two years may contain some tests.