Company culture can make or break an organisation. It can be the difference between an engaged and an actively disengaged employee. We’ve collected inspirational words from well-known business leaders to help set you on the right course.
A great business leader knows that, ultimately, a company’s success depends on its employees. These are the people who work hard every day to push the business forward. Without them, no business would be able to compete or achieve its organisational objectives. Our company vision and our products and services are important — but they are ultimately useless without an engaged team.
This is why forward-thinking companies work hard to create engaging company cultures. Company culture shapes the employee experience. It emerges from the company’s values, goals, mission and expectations. When you have the right culture, and you provide the means for your employees to thrive and grow, the world is your oyster. Voluntary turnover will drop, engagement levels will increase and you’ll be more likely to receive glowing Glassdoor reviews, which will aid future recruitment efforts.
Of course, as with many things in life and business, hardly anything is as straightforward as we would like. There is no clearcut definition of company culture, nor is there a recipe book for us to follow to create our ideal company culture. But we do have motivating quotes about company culture to help guide our efforts. Below, we’ve shared 10 of our favourites.
1. ‘Culture is not an initiative. Culture is the enabler of all initiatives.’ — Larry Senn
This is a great insight from Larry Senn, a pioneer in the field of corporate culture. With this quote, Larry discusses the fact that changes in company culture are often perceived as a long and arduous undertaking. Larry’s response is that culture in itself is not an “initiative”. It facilitates current and future initiatives. Once you get company culture right, decisions flow faster. Ideas flow better. You make future change more likely and easier. Working towards the right company culture might not be an easy task, but it is certainly one that will pay off.
2. ‘Culture is about performance and making people feel good about how they contribute to the whole.’ — Tracy Streckenbach
In large part, company culture is about helping employees feel good about the work they do and understand how their efforts move the organisation forward. Companies with a supportive, positive culture are usually successful in this area. With your company culture, you need to focus on your team. You need to get everyone on the same page and get them united behind a common goal.
3. ‘Culture is to recruiting as product is to marketing.’ — HubSpot’s Culture Code
Customers are going to be attracted to a great product. Talented employees are going to be attracted to a great culture. This is something we need to keep in mind as the war for talent continues. Top talent has a choice and candidates are ultimately going to jump on board with a company that takes its culture seriously. This doesn’t mean you have to offer lavish perks. Your company just needs a real sense of self and to show employees that they are appreciated and valued. This concept is so important that it has made it into HubSpot’s Culture Code.
4. ‘Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with a passion.’ — Brian Chesky, Co-Founder, CEO, Airbnb
This quote by Brian Chesky attempts to summarise company culture and what it’s all about. Although we can’t possibly reduce company culture down to one soundbite, Brian might have a point in that at its heart, culture is about collaboration and united passion. To build a great company culture, you need to have a host of motivated and enthusiastic performers to support it. No man is an island — the best company cultures bring everyone together and give them something real to care about.
5. ‘Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company.’ — Brian Kristofek, President and CEO, Upshot
With this quote, Brian Kritofek hints at all the benefits that come with a great company culture — increased employee engagement, an improved employee experience, more passion, and enthusiasm from your teammates. A great company culture can attract the best and brightest and it can improve retention rates. When people love where they work, great things follow — for everyone involved.
6. ‘We believe that it’s really important to come up with core values that you can commit to. And by commit, we mean that you’re willing to hire and fire based on them. If you’re willing to do that, then you’re well on your way to building a company culture that is in line with the brand you want to build.’ — Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos
Tony Hsieh is someone who understands the importance of company values and the necessity to hire based on cultural fit. You can hire the most impressive, best-qualified candidates available, but if their values fly in the face of everything your company believes in, they aren’t going to be an asset. In fact, they might send your company down a road it isn’t comfortable with.
Values are a central part of company culture and an element that needs to be well-communicated and respected. Leaders need to exemplify values — they need to be on display and you need to feel confident hiring, and firing, based on these well-considered values.
7. ‘Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the entrepreneur.’ — David Cummings, Co-Founder, Pardot
As David Cummings says, so much about business is unpredictable. You never really know what your profits and losses are going to look like. You can’t accurately predict what the market will look like even a year from now. But what you can control is your company culture. You can look after your culture and your people, and ultimately, you will reap the benefits.
8. ‘Starbucks was founded around the experience and the environment of their stores. Starbucks was about a space with comfortable chairs, lots of power outlets, tables and desks at which we could work and the option to spend as much time in their stores as we wanted without any pressure to buy. The coffee was incidental.’ — Simon Sinek, Author, Motivational Speaker and Marketing Consultant
Company culture can’t be copied and pasted from organisation to organisation. As Simon Sinek says, your company culture needs to be individual and meaningful. It needs to be identifiable and unique. And although, of course, success in terms of services and goods is important, what’s truly crucial is the culture behind it that is driving its success.
9. ‘Once you have an innovation culture, even those who are not scientists or engineers — poets, actors, journalists — they […] embrace the concept of an innovation culture. They vote in ways that promote it. They don’t fight science and they don’t fight technology.’ — Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, Cosmologist, Author, and Science Communicator
Neil deGrasse Tyson emphasises here the importance of innovation to any organisation. Innovation as a company value can help your organisation thrive, advance and remain competitive. Companies with innovative cultures are more likely to be creative and come up with out-of-the-box solutions to complicated problems. They are also more likely to accept change and advancement in its many forms.
10. ‘A hallmark of a healthy creative culture is that its people feel free to share ideas, opinions, and criticisms. Lack of candour, if unchecked, ultimately leads to dysfunctional environments.’ — Ed Catmull, President of Pixar
As the president of an internationally successful animated studio, Ed Catmull knows a lot about creativity. Companies with creative cultures open themselves to new ideas and ways of doing things. They are companies that are able to assess existing systems and procedures and overhaul them if they don’t match the organisation’s standards. To be truly creative, however, employees need to be emboldened to speak up. If they are shot down every time they have a suggestion for change, or if these changes are simply paid lip service to and never enacted, creative employees will learn that there is no sense in speaking up.
Here at People Insight, we help companies revitalise their employee experience and work towards the company culture they really want. To find out more about how to successfully navigate culture change in the financial sector read download a free financial services report on transformational change.
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