Don’t forget culture when building your business

Daniel O’Mahoney, managing director, Bradley O’Mahoney Public Relations

‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast’ is a well know phrase in business, but what does it mean and why is it important?

It has been proven in various studies that a healthy culture makes an impact on a company’s bottom line but still I find that most businesses overlook it, even though they are spending vast amounts of time planning and nurturing their strategy. This is one of the main conundrums I tackle when I go in to new businesses, explaining that strategy should be part of a bigger equation which encompasses culture in order to achieve the goals that the company is setting out to achieve.

So, what is a business culture? The easiest way to describe it is as the personality of the business. It defines how you are perceived by people outside of the organisation and it also influences how people who work for you feel. A good culture means everyone shares the same values and understands what the business is trying to achieve and this is what is projected outwards to potential customers and suppliers.

Maintaining a culture that keeps staff content is the best strategy any business can have. If people can see you care about your employees, they will trust you and your business. This all has a knock on effect and breaks down any reasons for not wanting to work with you. After all, we all know that people work with people they like.

Having a great culture should no longer be thought as an option you put on the backburner, it is a necessity. For example, a lot of employers don’t recognise that it is not just a case of them interviewing a potential employee; it is also the candidate interviewing them and their values. More people turn down a job offer because they don’t like the environment they would be working in than they turn down a proposed salary.

We spend most of our time at work and this has to be recognised by employees. Take, for example, the streaming giant that is Netflix. Rather than ruling over staff with an iron fist, monitoring their work activity day-in-day out, setting a stringent amount of days they can take off and annual reviews, the company decided that its people shouldn’t be judged on the amount of hours they work but on their abilities and achievements. By asking staff to effectively police their own work, they have a team that is made up of individuals who are both self-sufficient and self-motivated.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to culture. What works for one business might not work for yours. By taking time to understand your business and the people who work for you, you can create a culture that works for you.