In many ways, describing the “culture” of an organization like WEL is much the same as answering the question “what’s it like to work there”. Every organization has a culture. I think of an organization’s culture as the sum total of all the values embraced by it and its employees. A company’s culture is on display at all times – from how it interacts with its customers and the products and services it delivers, to the standards it sets for itself and how its employees are treated, to whether it does ethical things and does things ethically. When you are at work or otherwise deal with the company, you can feel the culture – it can’t be faked. You can sense the company’s values and what it stands for.
How do you feel at work? Are the company’s values in line with your own and do you feel comfortable? Can you get behind its mission and feel good about your contribution? Are you engaged with the future direction of the company and its ideals? Do you feel a valued part of it all? Are you proud to be a part of it?
Or, do you come to work to put in your time, get through the day, and get a paycheck? Sure, you may even like your job, but do you ever think about or even care about the overall company success, its future, or your future contribution to the company’s success for that matter?
If you cannot answer “yes” to these questions, either you are in the wrong job, with the wrong company, or with a company whose culture is “broken”. If it’s the latter, the most interesting thing is that you can help fix it. A company’s culture is controlled by its employees. It is whatever we make it. We define it, we accept it, or we change it. At its basic core is the “golden rule” – treat others as you wish to be treated. This applies to employees at all levels of the organization. It must be demanded and practiced everywhere from the board room to the facility floor.
Why does all this matter and why do companies today place such a high priority on creating a positive culture? Simply because companies with a good, strong, positive culture that cares for and rewards its employees for the contributions they make, and engages employees in its goals, mission, and accomplishments are much more successful as a business. Furthermore, employees of such companies feel much better about themselves and report much greater satisfaction with what they do. Conversely, a bad culture will lead to failure of an organization and all involved more surely and swiftly than the stiffest competition or worst economic conditions.
As CEO, I think about WEL’s culture quite a bit – perhaps more than anything else. Am I proud of what we are and what we stand for? I challenge each of you to ask yourself the same question. If you cannot answer that with a strong “yes”, help me fix it. If you are like many who tend to blame everything on “them”, STOP! It’s not “their” fault, “they” don’t make the culture, it’s not up to “them”. It’s up to us – all of us!