He asks me "what is your corporate culture?", , what should I answer?

Réfléchir, question, que faire ?



Dorine, management controller, has to recruit in her department as the company is in a strong development. During recruitment interviews, new questions appear from the candidates: What are your values? What societal impact does your company bring? How do you describe the company's culture? Dorine has a hard time giving clear answers...


At a time when companies like Cisco, Hilton and Salesforce are investing heavily to move into first, second and third place in the Fortune / Great Place To Work global rankings, let's look at the issue of corporate culture...


Corporate culture: a wave soon to be powerful


A wave of great magnitude is being born: the one of the corporate culture. Indeed, young talents are literally demanding more meaning, more authenticity in values, more coherence and more transparency... They are all looking for a fulfilling environment where the management style will allow them to learn and gain autonomy quickly.


It's not just a matter of "dressing the bride". Young people are quick to spot whether or not the corporate discourse is authentic. And once recruited, they don't hesitate to leave if they see too many inconsistencies between what has been said and reality. How many company directors are today stunned by the fact that their young recruits leave overnight? 


And this wave continues to grow: it is spreading to managers and longstanding employees, who are now more willing to take the risk of changing companies if they can, hence a loyalty that is eroding.


To be convinced of this, you only have to look at the success of websites such as Glassdoor, which record employees' opinions on the company's culture, or the Welcome To the Jungle website. Yes, in this age of Internet and social networks, it is no longer possible to have a façade speech.


Will you be ready for tomorrow?


The number 1 obstacle for companies today is less to sell or raise funds... than to recruit and retain: the war for talent has begun! 


"Tell me who you're recruiting today and I'll tell you where you'll be in 5 years," says the adage... Yes, it's our talents that make the company's future. Not to mention the cost of a failed recruitment (estimated at 1 year's salary) and the loss of time generated for the entire company.


The companies of the 21st century are the ones that have become aware of the magnitude of this new paradigm and understood that it was an unavoidable wave. They are playing the game thoroughly and are committed to a profound transformation, because becoming authentic, coherent, exemplary is difficult and requires significant changes in behavior, in the way of managing, selling, serving the customer, communicating... 


On the other hand, those who are satisfied with a "window dressing" will probably face difficulties in the long run, due to a lack of ability to attract talent and to be unique among customers. Because in this age of "infobesity", it will be increasingly difficult to stand out commercially. 


Every company has a culture... its own culture. It is often stronger and more beautiful than it seems. But it is not so easy to formalize. So isn't it time to step back and put things in perspective? To define authentic values understood by all? A "higher purpose" that has an impact? A clear and inspiring vision? To set up a compass that allows all employees to know why and how things are done here? 


And here, the company has only come 50% of the way, because it is only gained when the corporate culture is anchored in all employees, when they use it concretely on a daily basis, when they themselves are the guardians of it.


Let's take Netflix for example... Their culture is based on just 3 words: excellence, responsibility and freedom. But three words that are lived to the fullest by all the teams! The level of pressure is therefore very high... as is the freedom given to employees. 


Because, whatever your culture, the important thing is that it’s clear, assumed, explained and that your concrete actions are consistent. For example, recruiting people who are not in line with the company's culture is nonsense, that leads to disruption for the company and burn-out for employees. 


It is not a question of being a "teddy bear", but authentic: it’s not the same thing. It's about recruiting the people who are most likely to thrive in your company because they are perfectly “compatible”.


Investing in corporate culture can pay off big time!


Let's face it, investing in corporate culture is profitable. Corporate culture is a valuable and operationally useful asset. A 360° coherence around the culture means using this asset to its full potential for a more efficient development. And that is good management. Larry Fink, Blackrock's boss, says it all.


Yes, culture and performance are linked, because then:


-The framework is clearer

-The rust and cohesion are more natural

-There are fewer blocking elements

-The culture provides a concrete compass for everyone and facilitates autonomy

-To manage becomes simpler

-The attraction and differentiation are reinforced


Isn't it time to get started?


As you will have understood, culture is like the air we breathe. It is there, everywhere around us in the company, it is vital. But you have to take the time to care about it and make sure it is "pure", and then use it concretely.


Faced with a difficulty in recruiting, a talent drain or a drop in commitment, perhaps it is time to become part of an authentic, coherent and operational corporate culture.


Patrick Vignaud, Harmonist