The foolproof method for creating
a strong corporate culture

Corporate culture is known to bolster team cohesion and enhance performance. Learn how to cultivate a robust corporate culture for your organization!

The notion of corporate or organizational culture is on everyone's lips.

And for good reason: corporate culture is said to strengthen cohesion and team spirit, facilitate collaboration between employees, simplify recruitment and even boost performance.

In a context of talent wars, changing work patterns and constant change, organizational culture could therefore be a real panacea for employers.

But what is it exactly? And, above all, how can you create a strong corporate culture for your organization?

Mozzaik lifts the veil on this superpower and reveals 6 key steps to building a strong organizational culture. Read on!

📌 Contents :

  • What is corporate culture?
  • 6 essential steps to create a strong corporate culture
  • Conclusion: moving from concept to reality

What is corporate culture?

Corporate culture is a concept that originated in England and the United States. In the language of Shakespeare, it is referred to as , Organizational, Culture, Company Culture or Corporate Culture.  

But what does this mean?

Corporate culture: definition

Experts do not agree on a single definition of corporate culture.

The definition provided by professor, entrepreneur and author Raphaël H. Cohen in the Harvard Business Review seems to us to be both accurate and clear.

He describes organizational culture as ".a set of knowledge, values and behavior that facilitate the functioning of an organization by being shared by most of its members".

In detail, the corporate culture is translated through different elements aligned with the raison d'être of the organization, including

  • Values such as transparency, the right to make mistakes, autonomy, benevolence, creativity, innovation, team spirit, perseverance, boldness and respect for hierarchy;
  • A common history, the famous "founder myth" for example;
  • Rituals such as a weekly lunch with colleagues, a daily "Teams aperitif", the habit of celebrating individual successes or simply greeting each other in the morning;
  • Managerial postures such as that of the manager-coach;
  • A specific mode of expression and vocabulary, think in particular of the specific language used in the Startups;
  • Dress codes, such as the casual jeans and trainers look or the more formal suit and tie combination, to name but a few;
  • A working environment, the individual office, the Coworking, the corporate social network, the Digital Workplace or the Open Space with a table football and/or a coffee machine.

Finally, corporate culture can be explicit or implicit, left to itself or carefully studied and nurtured (this will be the subject of our second part).

4 main types of corporate culture

There are no less than 4 main types of organizational culture (and up to 12!):

  1. The clan culture or collaborative culture, which favors a friendly, even family atmosphere, horizontality, the practice of feedback and team spirit. It is often observed in start-ups and SMEs.
  2. The creative culture or Ad-hocracy, which encourages innovation and experimentation by giving employees the right to make mistakes and a margin of autonomy. This form of culture is characteristic of disruptive companies in the Tech sector.
  3. The market or competitive culture, which is primarily concerned with return on investment and winning new market shares. This form of culture values the spirit of competition, individual success, respect for rules and hierarchy. It is widespread in particularly competitive industries.
  4. The culture of hierarchy or the culture of control, which corresponds to a vertical operation in which procedures and respect for management occupy a predominant place. This type of culture is suitable for large groups that favor security and stability over innovation and dynamism.

Which organizations need to create a strong corporate culture?

From SMEs to large corporations to startups, all organizations need to create a robust and unique corporate culture.

And for good reason, organizational culture performs many essential functions:

  • It helps to maintain social peace, cohesion and team spirit among employees. Indeed, it generates links between individuals, federates employees, facilitates interactions and facilitates internal collaboration.
  • It is a performance driver, as it creates synergy between members of the organization, brings out the best in each employee and accelerates individual decision-making. According to professor Frances Frei and entrepreneur Anne Morriss, "corporate culture tells us what to do when the CEO is not in the room".
  • It contributes to the emergence of an employer branding attractive. Corporate culture promotes a sense of belonging to the organization. It helps build employee loyalty and facilitates recruitment by attracting individuals who share the company's values. In a word, organizational culture is a vector for attracting and retaining talent. Conversely, a toxic corporate culture is one of the primary reasons for resignation.
  • It contributes to the consumer brand image. Indeed, consumers are sensitive to the values conveyed and implemented by organizations. Corporate culture thus represents a means of differentiation, particularly in competitive markets.
  • Finally, corporate culture is a resilience factor, which is essential in times of crisis or transformation. It provides a reference point for all the stakeholders in the organization and enables them to continue to work together.

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What corporate culture should your company have?

Every company culture has strengths and weaknesses. The first thing to do is to identify the one that corresponds to the reality of your organization or the one that will best serve the fulfillmen of your raison d'être.

In a period of instability, corporate cultures that value trust creativity, autonomy, the right to make mistakes and team spirit are becoming increasingly popular. They facilitate the adoption of hybrid work and the emergence of innovative solutions, while preserving cohesion.  

However, more directive organizational cultures with a strong emphasis on hierarchy and enforcement may also be useful in an uncertain environment. The presence of strong leaders at the helm of the organization can be reassuring to employees.  

So, to find out which corporate culture best suits your organization, you should proceed methodically by following the 6 steps outlined below. It's up to you!

The 6 essential steps to create a strong corporate culture

Before going any further, let us make one essential clarification: the creation of a strong corporate culture depends to a large extent on co-construction. All the stakeholders in the organization, from the Executive Committee to the operational staff, must be involved in defining and implementing your corporate culture.

And for good reason:in the end, your organizational culture must be embodied on a daily basis by the various players in the company. It must therefore meet with their approval and be able to correspond to the reality on the ground. Otherwise, it will remain a mere marketing argument with no tangible existence.

1. Identify the purpose of your organization with the support of your leaders

To create a strong organizational culture, you should first ask yourself why your organization exists.

Your raison d'être is the DNA of your company, the common project that guides the actions of all the stakeholders in your organization, or the vision that guided the founders of your firm. This shared purpose is the source of your corporate culture. It determines the corpus of values that constitute it.

For example:

  • The raison d'être of Decathlon, a company regularly ranked among the best French employers, is to "make the pleasure and benefits of sports accessible to as many people as possible on a long-term basis".
  • Nexity's raison d'être, which is also recognized as a great place to work, is to "design places where people live better together".

In concrete terms, to determine your raison d'être, you need to ask your top management. They must establish the "why" (to use the expression coined by the American author Simon Sinek) of your organization. The leaders will be able to express the "vision" that led them to found the company and specify what it brings to the community through its activity.

2. Survey your employees to identify common values

Once you have determined your raison d'être, survey all the stakeholders in your company, from managers to field staff. The objective at this stage is to highlight existing or desired values shared by the members of your organization .

In detail, interview each employee to find out what values they associate with the company. Above all, ask each person to explain the terms used to make sure you agree on their meaning. Certain concepts such as autonomy, responsibility or respect may in fact refer to different realities (autonomy at one's workstation or more broadly in a remote work context ; social or individual responsibility; respect for the established hierarchy or respect for each person's individuality, etc.).

This can be done by using an internal listening platform (such as Supermood), setting up a computerized questionnaire, organizing face-to-face interviews or planning ideation workshops involving several employees. It's up to you to choose the method best suited to the size of your organization and your resources.

3. Identify your company's core values by involving your managers

This is a key step in creating your corporate culture. It is time to determine, with the support of your top management, what the value base of your organization is.

To do this, you need to identify, among the values most frequently cited by your employees, those that correspond to your raison d'être. The latter enables you to stay on course and guarantees a certain coherence between the values that make up your organizational culture.

For example, the values promoted by Decathlon are :

  • Vitality" in the sense of "being positive and full of energy";
  • Responsibility" as a capacity to "take charge of one's life and be an actor in it";
  • Authenticity" in the sense of "truth with oneself and others";
  • Generosity" defined as "doing things with heart and being turned towards others".

For its part, the American company Buffer, a global reference in the field of organizational culture and employer branding, mentions six values:

  • Transparency by default";
  • The 'culture of optimism';
  • The 'expression of gratitude';
  • The 'practice of reflection';
  • Continuous improvement";
  • The "surpassing of oneself".
💾 To go further, find out how to implement a digital company culture

4. Translate your values into words and actions with the support of your employees

Once your value base has been identified, it should be given substance through internal communication.

To do this, think first of all about setting it out and making it explicit through a charter, a code or even a manifesto. This official document will enable your employees to keep your set of values firmly in mind. It will also allow your new recruits to simply familiarize themselves with the fundamentals of your corporate culture.

Above all, make a point of translating your key values into action. In a word, imagine, with the help of your employees, codes, rituals or work methods to be implemented to bring your corporate culture to life on a daily basis.

💡💡 As, the company Ubisoft Montreal, which counts conviviality and creativity among its values, has instituted a ritual that"promotes closeness between people": the "Gnomies" (in reference to the famous "Grammys"). This is a way for employees to express their gratitude to each other by awarding each other trophies representing garden gnomes.

5. Bring your corporate culture to life on a daily basis

Now is the time to move from words to deeds and implement your codes, rituals and other managerial practices within your teams and in your work spaces.

It is time to invest in a nice table football (conviviality), a green wall (respect for the environment), a nap room (employee well-being), or a Digital Workplace (collaboration), but also, if necessary, in a series of training courses and workshops that will make your employees the champions of your corporate culture.

💡, if your company values a culture, it may be useful to train your employees in good feedback practices (constructive criticism, caring, etc.).

6. Evolve your corporate culture over time

Your organizational culture is alive. It evolves with events, but also with new arrivals. Each new recruit can call into question your values or the way they are expressed.

To keep your organizational culture afloat, encourage employees, managers and leaders to embody it in their everyday actions and strategic decisions.

In addition, to prevent your corporate culture from withering away, remember to evaluate it regularly by interviewing your employees, and to update your codes and practices.

Conclusion: moving from concept to reality

A strong organizational culture is essential for the proper functioning and sustainability of any company. It is a factor of cohesion, attractiveness, loyalty and performance.

In fact, according to a study by Heidrick & Struggles, companies that view organizational culture as a performance accelerator grow more than twice as fast as other organizations.

But creating a strong corporate culture is more complicated than it sounds.It is necessary to involve all employees It is important to involve all employees, from top management to operational staff, in its development and daily implementation.

To do this, it is essential to methodically define your raison d'être, your values and the behaviors expected of employees.

Secondly, it is important to spread your corporate culture within your organization by activating different levers: internal communication, training of stakeholders, adoption of new working tools, etc. All of these measures will be discussed in detail in a future article.

Things to remember

📌 Identify the 'Why' of the business;

📌 Find the founding values of the organization ;

📌 Involve leaders in this process;

📌 Centralize values in a book or manifest ;

📌 Bringing the corporate culture to life;

📌 Adapting the charter over time;



How to create a strong corporate culture ?

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