Tracing the development of corporate culture and its impact on public relations in an organisation, it is interesting to note that PR is capable of changing the prevailing culture to make it more inspiring and acceptable for employees. It can have a deep impact on the overall reputation of the organisation.
What is corporate culture?
It consists of the shared values, beliefs and attitudes that characterise an organisation, define its nature and guide its practices. Plus corporate culture is rooted in an organisation’s goals, strategies, structure, and approaches to customers, investors, the general public and all other stakeholders.
So, organisational culture governs how people behave in organisations. These shared values have a strong influence on the employees in the organisation and controls how they look, behave and perform their tasks.
What makes a culture?
Each culture is unique and a number of elements go into creating one. There are five factors that can build a culture that is differentiated and can last in an organisation.
A vision or mission statement is the starting point of a great culture. This simple turn of a phrase can guide a company’s values and provide it with a purpose. That purpose, in turn, orients every decision employees make. Good vision statements can even help orient all stakeholders – customers, suppliers, and others, when they are authentic and prominently displayed. A vision statement is simple but forms the foundation of culture.
At Ikea the vision is “to create a better everyday life for the many people”. McDonald’s vision is – “To provide the fast food customer food prepared in the same high-quality manner world-wide that is tasty, reasonably-priced and delivered consistently in a low-key décor and friendly atmosphere”. Apple’s vision states: “We believe in deep collaboration and cross-pollination of our groups, which allow us to innovate in a way that others cannot. We believe that we are on the face of the earth to make great products and that’s not changing. We are constantly focusing on innovating”. And, we know the word “innovation” is owned by Apple.
Nonprofit organisations often excel at having compelling, yet simple vision statements.
At the core of a company’s culture are the values. A vision focuses a company’s purpose, values and offers a set of guidelines on the behavior and mindsets needed to achieve that vision. The Pfizer mission statement says – “We dedicate ourselves to humanity’s quest for longer, healthier, happier lives through innovation in pharmaceutical, consumer and animal health products”. Their value clearly pinpoints – innovation, and their purpose: quest for longer, healthier, happier lives.
Every organisation has a unique history, and 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 – like Coca-Cola, which celebrates its heritage and even has a World of Coca-Cola Museum in Atlanta; or it can be informal, like Steve Jobs’ early fascination with calligraphy, which shaped the aesthetically oriented culture at Apple. But, they are more powerful when identified, shaped, and retold as a part of an organisation’s ongoing culture.
Unless they are embedded in the practices of an organisation, values are of little importance. If an organisation claims, “people are our greatest asset,” it should also be ready to invest in people. And whatever an organisation’s values may be, they must be reinforced and integrated into the operating principles of daily life in the firm.
No corporate culture can be evolved without people, who either share its core values or are willing to accept those values. People stick with cultures they like, and can even reinforce the culture an organisation already has. So, it may be seen that leading companies have their unique recruiting policies, to attract and select the right people.
These five components can provide a strong base for shaping a new organisation’s culture. Identifying and understanding these components can be the first step to shaping culture in an organisation, or even when it is on the lookout for change.