Saturday, May 17, 2008

Why a corporate culture matters and needs tending

No matter how much the culture of a company is discussed during recruiting events or in media, mainstream or otherwise, I am always amazed by how few companies actually actively measure it. I consider the quality of a company's culture to be as critical, if not more so, that any other business metric. They track sales, margin, expense rate, and investment. I've even heard some executives say that those are the only four numbers that a CEO can actively manage. 

But what about culture? It increases retention time, which certainly lowers expense rate. Dollar for dollar,  investing in retaining top talent is the best investment a company can make. And I am a firm believer in the idea that if a company cares for its talent, its talent will care for its customers, increasing sales and margin. If looked at that way, a CEO could possibly focus a sizable chunk of attention on culture and do very well. If he or she takes care of the culture, the culture will take care of the talent, and the other numbers will fall into line.     

The Financial Post ran an interesting article on culture this past week, and it's worth the short read. It discusses two companies, Maple Leaf and Starbucks Canada, who actively measure culture and adjust accordingly to preserve its integrity. Managing culture is no easy undertaking, though from the perspective of these two companies, the effort pays off handsomely. 

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