Why is Everyone Talking About Company Culture: Pt. 1 — The Boss

(This a series about Company Culture. As Silicon Jungle (a part of the Alibi X start-up family) grows and learns a number of lessons, we wanted to delve into thoughts about company culture from the perspective of the CEO, Middle Management, and the Worker)

In the social media world, especially Twitter and LinkedIn, and in workplaces across the country, from large to small companies, to start-ups and Co-ops, everyone is constantly talking about company culture.

Explaining what it is, why it is important… Giving tips, advice, and then there are the “true-life” stories about why their company culture works, to brag about it, and seriously to give steps on how their amazing company culture can be replicated. Although, there are high-level ideas and concepts that are definitely transferable, personalities and external factors affect the culture or environment so heavily, we are not sure why so many people talk about company culture in such simple terms for duplication. It’s not a 1+1 = 2 equation.

If you were to analyze companies with the best cultures based on the most neutral criteria, there would definitely be some similarities to transfer across certain industries, but the success of a company’s culture is truly case-by-case. Companies within the same industry are rarely the same. Moreover, there are plenty of workers who allow money and the need of money to completely make the value of the company culture irrelevant to them. They are willing to work with frustrations, bad bosses, lazy co-workers, and work environments that are completely intolerable.

Enter *Millennials*

Yes. We are accused of being quite demanding in terms of company culture and job happiness more so than our parents and grandparents. In fact, we are expected, and probably have been told in the traditional workplaces, to suck it up, this is the way work happens. Bad bosses don’t get fired and don’t complain about not having enough meaningful work, it will come. Things will get better in time.

But will it? Should we be intentional about the environment that we spend 40 hours, if not more each week ? Is working in miserable places a part of the process?

Maybe or maybe not… We wanted to look at company culture from three viewpoints in this series:

The Worker

Dilbert

Middle Management

Boss

CEO

No CEO

I don’t mean to imply that CEO’s do not exist, but for many larger companies, as with Dilbert, you had no idea who the CEO was, let alone him being a thought leader. This is one benefit our generation should appreciate is the access that is more available. I have a number of friends that work for Fortune 500 companies, and it is always interesting when I ask about something that I heard Jeff Bezos, Indra Nooyi or Larry Ellison say at a conference or in an interview, and their comments are in the news. This access is a good thing. Although it can’t be said about each and EVERY leader, but they too care about company culture. Yes, the big Boss cares, and this is what we’re here to talk about today.

There are a variety of CEO types in the professional world — making overbroad generalizations is quite difficult — but I think for the most part there are four types of CEOs that are most prevalent across industries, private, public, or government and small, medium or large.

The CEO View

  • The Leader
  • i.e. He or she gets the people going! — Personable; excellent communicator; warm with strong values; fundamental belief in people
  • The Figure-Head
  • i.e. the philosopher — Personal mission to make a significant difference in the industry;
  • The Deal-Maker/Executor
  • i.e. Getting ish done — Driving focus to be the best in their industry; relentless focus and attention to detail
  • The Visionary
  • i.e Steve Jobs — Leads by example and embodies the company that he or she leads

Each of these types, may lead in very different ways that lead to success. But one thing is for sure with each of these types, the company culture needs to be a place where productivity is increased. Whatever productivity may look like to them. The CEO of a Fortune 500 company wants the same thing as a Principal of a high school. The employees or teachers, need to have an environment that creates the most production, whether it’s creating widgets or educating students successfully. This focus on productivity doesn’t change the mindset that their employees need to be happy, it’s that the happiness must be wrapped in with a certain level of production that often times can be measured.

But does the CEO have to care about the company culture at all? Not really. The actual company culture has less effect on the top employee. Not to say it doesn’t affect them, but at least in small businesses, they have the capacity to directly control what the company culture looks like, or to completely ignore it and let it happen organically amongst their employees without their help. That is an idea that might seem a little scary, but if you hire the best people for roles that you are hiring, the company culture may happen with little interaction from the leader, and they can focus on productivity, and less on the environment. That really is the goal. In large companies, we know that this is very true. In fact, the most important part of the CEO is that they have to hire people, who hire people, who hire people that care about company culture.

I don’t know where on the spectrum in your company and where you land in the food chain, but company culture matters from the top down. And if you are in a position to effect or change your company culture, then do it. If it is working effectively, leave it alone. Change doesn’t always need to come. If you are in a position that in no way shape or form can affect the company culture, then you are wrong. (Ha, got you!). Everybody matters.

When the leader of the organization, no matter how little it affects them, forgets to highlight the importance of company culture, then what trickles down may be based on luck or nothing trickles down at all. Even though employees who are way down the food chain, roll their eyes, when they hear about the company culture from the Top executive, they may feel like they don’t know what they are talking about, but having them speak about the culture is important. Because everyone plays a role in the environment, and the first paradigm shift is to recognize that the CEO or Top Leader may care too, it might juyst manifest differently. (and if they don’t, the question is if its the right place for you?)

Share your thoughts below.

M/P

You can read more from Jackie-Monroe at missingperspective.com


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