In today’s world, ‘company culture’ has become synonymous with high-performing companies. At OpenBlend, we have the privilege of opening the door to an array of differing company cultures and gaining insight into the challenges they face. Our clients all have one common theme: they are people-centric, so an opportunity to come together and discuss company culture and challenge our thinking was a welcome opportunity.
Our CEO & Founder, Anna Rasmussen, started the morning with this simple definition of ‘culture and company culture:
“The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a group of particular people or society.”
Schools, friends, countries, families… they all have their own culture. What sets company culture apart is often its transient nature and impact on employee wellbeing. Whilst country or family are a long-term association, companies are more momentary in our lives. And so if the culture does not suit us, we move on, making the challenges for companies to retain and engage talent all the more vital.
The cultural iceberg
Anna shared her view of the cultural iceberg. Above water, we saw all the initiatives companies implement to create their perfect culture: pool tables, free food, gym memberships, and technical solutions (such as OpenBlend!). All are valuable, but these can be meaningless unless you know what is below the surface; the absolute necessity of C-suite buy-in and action to make the changes.
We next heard from Jo Olsen and how together with her team at M&C Saatchi Sport and Entertainment, they’ve achieved a spot on Campaign’s Top 25 Places To Work—talking to staff, focusing on high performance, staying connected, thinking of the end-to-end employee experience, and remembering that culture is never done. Scoring 100 in the ‘Confidence of leadership’ and ‘Organisational communication’ part of the Best Places To Work survey demonstrated that buy-in to support initiatives such as OpenBlend had paid dividends.
Finally, coach Alex Mecklenburg made us challenge our thinking on what culture is and how we approach it. To quote Peter Ducker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”. Or, in Alex Mecklenburg’s words, “Intent eats strategy for breakfast.” Do our organisations radiate intent? Are we aligned on the intended outcomes of our actions? Does everyone understand our organisational intent… especially in difficult moments of trade-offs? No one has all the answers, but we must ask ourselves these questions as businesses.
There is a saying that ‘Company Culture happens when nobody is looking,’ but as organisations, we must talk, challenge, and act to shape our particular people's customs and social behaviours.