Managing Corporate Culture and Responsibility in an Era of ‘Explosive’ Messaging, Part 1
We're living in an interesting age where “assaulting” ones sensibilities in the political and public realm is somehow being normalized as the role of social media evolves and as behavioral and communication standards seem to erode daily. The impact this change has had on all aspects of personal and corporate behavior and standards is still in question, as is when the pendulum might swing back to a more “normalized” standard.
The changing role of communication and messaging as well as the changing styles of social interaction has to be reviewed and, in doing so, better understood and evaluated. And, as opposed to simply accepting these changes as some sort of “progress point,” where we are and where we are heading needs some discussion. We've referenced this trend in prior articles as something that's impacting organizational standards and the basic way in which organizations run. In short, the explosion of communication channels results in our ability to receive limitless amounts of information.
Much of this information is accurate, informative and useful. Unfortunately, much of it has also been created without review, allows for “extreme personal interpretation” and isn't necessarily based on fact. In a sense, it has become an internal version of the concept of “fake news.” The world is so overloaded with (mis)information that the belief that “if it is published it must be true” no longer means anything. In fact, so much of what's shared, written or posted is often entirely interpretive and based solely on individual or small group opinion that it lacks any real validity … or veracity.
In this new reality, the role of the work place and idea of corporate responsibility become even more meaningful. To build a culture and maintain it, this expanded communication reality needs to be more actively managed by corporate leaders and their teams. Corporations, we argue, must put in place some internal checkpoints and communications must be reviewed for credibility. This assumption has always been the theoretical case, but in today’s harsher environment of so much “circling information,” it's even more important that organizations make public (at least to their employees) their core principles and values, especially as greater social mores seem to crumble and civility seems to disappear daily. In the most succinct way of putting it, culture matters and managing a culture has become an even more proactive responsibility if leadership wants a culture to have any meaning at all.
The Importance of Corporate Culture … Especially Now
Corporate culture drives behavior, business process and ultimately results. Ideally the “right” culture and employees who believe in that culture leads to positive outcomes. That includes committed employees who work for the “greater good” while working for their own reward with a clear focus on business planning and efficiencies, and a sense of direction with the goal of long-term survival and growth.
A brand that exemplifies a positive and successful culture is Chobani. The founder of Chobani is a Greek immigrant who built a company that makes and sells authentic Greek yogurt. He has turned the enterprise from a “mom and pop” operation into a large and thriving multinational business. But Hamdi Ulukaye wasn't just making and selling yogurt. His goal was to make the world a better place through his enterprise. Giving back to the community, in terms of time and money, are part of the corporate fabric of Chobani and every employee knows it, sees it and believes it.
Chobani is committed to good works and any employee who works there must be fully committed to this endeavor. Authenticity, quality and philanthropy pervade every aspect of Chobani as a company. The culture is clear, communicated, supported and reinforced. The owner and the employees believe in the mission. It is, in effect, their “religion.” It's their focus and guiding principle and is greatly responsible for the resulting growth of the company. Every employee sees the success of Chobani as a result of this commitment, which pervades every aspect of the culture, from the quality of the product to the care in the packaging, to delivery and to making sure the customer understands and is committed as well. Check out Chobani's Facebook page or Glass Door, and it's all there. Consistency of messaging internally breeds consistency of messaging externally.
Frederick Lamster is a partner at Battalia Winston International, and an ex-CHRO at L Brands. Sharon Tunstall is a consultant at Connect the Dots, and a former CHRO at Nike.
Related story: Anyone Thinking About Tolerance and Empathy in the Workplace?
Frederick Lamster is the Managing Director at ZRG Partners, a progressive mid-sized global executive search firm that uses a proven, data-driven approach.
Sharon Tunstall is a Consultant at Connect the Dots, a leadership solutions consulting company.