Corporate culture can be defined as a blend of the values, beliefs, symbols, philosophy, behavior, that constitutes the unique style and policies of a company. It is the professional atmosphere that grows from this blend and affects behavior and performance of the company. Whether written as a mission statement, spoken or merely understood, corporate culture describes and governs the ways a company’s owners and employees think, feel and act. A company’s culture will be reflected in its dress code, business hours, office setup, employee benefits, turnover, hiring decisions, and treatment of clients, client satisfaction and every other aspect of operation.
A corporate culture that encourages innovation will go a long way in improving the company, the examples being improved quality and extended product and service range, increased profits and greater customer satisfaction.
Companies need to give more attention to people-oriented determinants of innovative culture, such as the values the employees believe in and the workplace climate. The leaders should be willing to replace existing products with new and better ones, to energize employees with a vivid description of the future and to cut through red tape.
The Hiring Process
A Company should strive to hire people who share its values. The hiring process should prioritize talent and passion over academic papers. While having high performing employees is an advantage, having those who do not fit into the company’s culture is disadvantageous because, while performance is solid, their attitude is detrimental to company culture, which is detrimental to business.
Companies should hire employees who are in the career for more than just a paycheck and who believe in the company’s long-term vision and want to be part of its culture. Employees who are genuinely passionate about their work, they believe in the company’s product and actually want to improve it.
Hiring employees who have different perspectives, diverse backgrounds, passions, and capabilities will easily generate an innovative approach as it would mean having employees with an alternative set of ideas and problem-solving approaches.
Clear Intent of Innovation
Companies should also be clear about innovation in their culture. This could be through a statement in the company’s mission or vision. An example would be a mission to improve its customers’ financial lives so profoundly they cannot imagine going back to the old way.
Symbols may also be used to represent the underlying values of an organization, and they come in many forms—values statements, awards, success stories, posters in the hallways, catch phrases and awards.
People perform best when they are driven by inspiration and are encouraged to push their boundaries and think outside the box. Recognition is one of the most powerful tools for promoting employee creativity and innovation, and it can be through an annual innovation award for the employee who comes up with the best ideas. Innovative employees can be mentioned in the company newsletter or on the news board even if their ideas can’t be implemented immediately. Recognition can also be through informal acknowledgments and will encourage a collective spirit and help promote the flow of free ideas. A company should recognize contributions made by employees at all levels, whether or not the suggestion is adopted.
Teamwork enhances people’s strengths and mitigates their individual weaknesses. Effective teamwork also promotes the awareness that it is in everyone’s best interests to keep the business growing and improving. Creating a participation-based environment means creating smart teams, encouraging open dialogue, and minimizing authority. Employees who are convinced of a larger common goal are people who are excited to be part of a larger purpose.
A Conducive Environment
Companies should create corporate cultures that support risk-taking and questioning. A company should create a workplace environment that cultivates engagement and enthusiasm, challenges people to take risks within a safe environment, fosters learning and encourages independent thinking. Encouraging employees to take risks and giving staff members the opportunity to engage in spontaneous discussions fosters creativity. Having an open working environment with lots of transparency and employee freedom attracts talent.
Company leaders can provide top-down support by being open and approachable, encouraging the flow wild ideas and allowing employees to build on the ideas of their colleagues. Mistakes made in the pursuit of novel solutions should be accepted as part of the creative process.
Providing “free” time for employees to experiment with new technologies, products, or processes can also breed an n innovative culture. This could be an employee retreat, allocated time each day or a day out of the office.
A company can also have specific new ideas meetings, suggestion boxes, suggestion area on the internal intranet, dedicated times and/or rooms that help promote the free flow of ideas and can help build a community of innovators. In this era of the Internet of Things, companies can also come up with online forums or applications that allow the employees to exchange and brainstorm on ideas.
Innovation starts at the top. It is the leaders who set the tone, not only by creating a climate that encourages it but also by making it possible for people to put forward new ideas without fear of failure.