Culture eh…yep it’s important. We all know that. And this is not going to be another blog stating the bloody obvious about how a good culture in your business is critical. But, how we define and communicate our culture is something that needs addressing…because few of us (me included) do it very well. Let me explain….
Take a look at company websites, job adverts, the little grab line on a business card or wherever else ‘culture’ is being described. You inevitably see the same sort of stuff…..
There are usually too many words. Some companies take a whole page on their corporate website to sell you their culture. They are this and that, and a bit of this and a little drop of that and a bit more of something else and blah blah blah…a big long wish list, trying to be all things to all people.
And we generally all use the same words. I have just taken a random look at about 20 recruitment agencies websites and adverts and found the word ‘professional’ appearing 12 times, ‘innovative’ (10), ‘market-leader’ (9), ‘consultative’ (7) and ‘autonomous’ (5).
Then, there is the opposite problem of “thesaurusitis”. In trying to find new and fancy ways to describe our culture we reach for the Thesaurus to find a different ways to say what we mean. The problem is that the meaning gets lost and you end up coming across as a bit pretentious.
A lot of people also fall into the mistake of describing what they think people want to hear, as opposed to what the reality is. Sure, we all need to sell our culture as positively as possible. But when it sounds like some sort of mythical nirvana it really beats the point, as you just sound full of bull.
Then some lose the plot totally and mix up culture (i.e. what it is like to work there), with brand (the service you are providing). OK, these two things play into each other, but when you start describing your brand as ‘cool’ then you’ve got a problem. Sure, having a break out room and casual day on Fridays might well be important to a prospective employee, but a client isn’t going to give a monkeys how ‘cool’ you are.
When culture is so important, I think that defining and communicating it is something many of us could be much better at (one again, hands up here). Ask any of your clients, friends or colleagues to describe the culture of their business, and see how many give you a really concise and original answer that leaves you with a clear idea of what they are like and why they are different.
I have been doing that exercise this week …but with a twist. Do it in only two words. Try it and you will find it is harder than you think. But, if we are genuine about taking the culture thing seriously, as opposed to just doing it because you have to, then we should all be able to do this – with honesty, originality, simplicity and clarity.
Let us know what you come up with…..(remember, only two words).