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What defines the corporate culture of your organization? In this day and age of casual organizational structures where flextime and work at home time are widely accepted, establishing a well-defined culture is fundamental to business success.

Corporate culture is an organization’s personality and understanding that structure will help you build professional credibility within the cultural framework. It’s a roadmap that helps you navigate through your daily responsibilities in a more professional way. It outlines approved methods of interacting and behaving. Merging your style within this structure will help you effectively communicate and develop work patterns that are aligned to your organizations goals and objectives.

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Organizational cultures includes tangibles such as dress code and flex time policies, and intangibles like team dynamics, personality styles and ethics. It provides consistency with clear boundaries, rules, expectations, priorities and communication and is fundamental to an organization’s productivity. The greater the match between your working style and the culture of your organization, the greater your level of satisfaction, comfort and well-being at work.

There are basically three types of organizational structures–formal, moderate & casual. Typically, there is a defined standard for presentations, reports and electronic correspondence. In the formal structure, top-down hierarchy and corporate standards prevail. In the moderate structure, formal department and task group meetings are the norm, augmented by informal office discussions. In the casual structure, communication is loose and informal. Brainstorming, personal flair and creativity are appreciated.

In a Harvard Business Review blog, Six Components of a Great Corporate Culture, John Coleman notes,Each culture is unique and myriad factors go into creating one, but I’ve observed at least six common components of great cultures. Isolating those elements can be the first step to building a differentiated culture and a lasting organization.

  • Vision: A great culture starts with a vision or mission statement. These simple turns of phrase guide a company’s values and provide it with purpose. That purpose, in turn, orients every decision employees make. When they are deeply authentic and prominently displayed, good vision statements can even help orient customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders.
  • Values: A company’s values are the core of its culture. While a vision articulates a company’s purpose, values offer a set of guidelines on the behaviors and mindsets needed to achieve that vision.
  • Practices: Of course, values are of little importance unless they are enshrined in a company’s practices. If an organization professes, ‘people are our greatest asset,’ it should also be ready to invest in people in visible ways. Similarly, if an organization values ‘flat’ hierarchy, it must encourage more junior team members to dissent in discussions without fear or negative repercussions.
  • People: No company can build a coherent culture without people who either share its core values or possess the willingness and ability to embrace those values. People stick with cultures they like, and bringing on the right ‘culture carriers’ reinforces the culture an organization already has.
  • Narrative: Any organization has a unique history–a unique story. And the ability to unearth that history and craft it into a narrative is a core element of culture creation. The elements of that narrative can be formal…but they are more powerful when identified, shaped, and retold as a part of a firm’s ongoing culture.
  • Place: Place–whether geography, architecture, or aesthetic design–impacts the values and behaviors of people in a workplace.

There are other factors that influence culture. But these six components can provide a firm foundation for shaping a new organization’s culture. And identifying and understanding them more fully in an existing organization can be the first step to revitalizing or reshaping culture in a company looking for change.”

No matter what your corporate culture, don’t let fear get in the way of your career choices.

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