Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviors of employees and leadership which govern how business is handled within a company; values, goals, vision, and the day-to-day practices of a business work together to create a company culture.
Making Changes to Corporate Culture
Creating a corporate culture from scratch is arguably easier then modifying company culture once established. Doing things as they have always been done is easier than making waves. However, sometimes waves are necessary to change corporate culture in order to keep the company momentum going forward. This is especially true for improving integrity within an organization. Cutting corners and choosing what is fast, easy, or even temporarily more profitable can be difficult habits to break.
So how can we change the corporate culture for the better? Corporate culture cannot and will not change overnight. It starts with a ripple rather than a tidal wave. Changing behaviors within a company starts with pinpointing one component at a time, then working to modify or incorporate it into the corporate culture. This process is what will be discussed in this series.
What is Corporate Integrity?
Integrity is not just “doing the right thing” as prescribed by company policy. C.S. Lewis once said, “A perfect man wd. never act from sense of duty; he’d always want the right thing more than the wrong one.”
Because we don’t live in a perfect world, integrity can be tricky. A corporate structure can be built on the foundation of integrity but then the actions of a few rogue employees can undermine that carefully-laid foundation. Although this can be a challenging or frustrating problem, it should not discourage a company’s desire to uphold itself to a higher standard.
Establish Compliance – The Reward of Integrity
Many will do what is expected when under the microscope; however, that is not the goal of corporate integrity. The real benefit of integrity in a business is that when employees and supervisors internalize that value by doing the right thing for the company and clients, everyone benefits from a business transaction. Good deeds don’t go unnoticed by clients and word of mouth as well as social media mean that sometimes doing what is right versus what is standard practice can make a world of difference in public perception; thus, the client and business are both valued in the transaction.
A company driven by employees who feel empowered to do the right thing usually spells a happier environment in the workplace overall as the value of integrity enhances business practice and success. Leaders must propagate the idea that value, as an individual and within a company, comes from doing the right thing and both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards follow.
- Doing the right thing is intrinsically rewarding
- It creates trust in clients or customers
- Clients value trust and promote business to others
- The company receives more business and profits
- An overall climate of success creates a feeling of success and value
- Successful business means financial gain for employees
Creating Ripples of Change
The best ripple to make in a company culture to create big waves (eventually) is to start with targeting the behaviors in need of change, integrity in this case. Define what integrity should look like within the company and emphasize why it is critical for success.
Choose a few key people that can be trusted to share the company vision for change – those who can lead by example to teach and model the goal. These leaders can begin to change behaviors that inhibit integrity while tapping into employee emotions by showing that being someone with integrity is being someone of value to the company. Employees appreciate being valued and are more likely to do what is right when the habit of integrity is positively reinforced.
- Choose to make integrity a priority
- Market integrity as a valuable asset (and mean it!)
- Find leaders to share the vision across the company
A helpful video that further explains this process is What Is Corporate Culture?
A Word of Caution
A company cannot undermine their own efforts by continuing to allow employees who display a deficit in honesty and reliability to continue those behaviors. Whether a person has failed to meet the promises made to a client or misrepresented themselves in the office, their actions cannot be ignored. How you respond to such employees depends on the nature of the breach of trust and other factors. Disciplinary action, paired with mentoring to encourage desired behavior may be an option; however, the time may come when severing the connection is the best option.
Once a company chooses to ignore their own values, every employee watching knows just how little integrity truly matters. Simply put, the company policy must be one that does not tolerate employees who demonstrate a lack of integrity.
For more on corporate culture and the benefits of integrity, see the articles below:
- What is Corporate Culture?
- Never Underestimate the Power of Corporate Integrity, by Matthew Fawcett
- Integrity: Without It Nothing Works, by Michael C. Jensen