Management Gold: Company Culture Lessons from a Country Culture

Last month, I traveled to Ireland with my aunt, my first visit and her 28th.  A true world traveler, my aunt insists it’s her favorite country because of the culture and the people, whom she describes as "engaging, caring and witty.”

I experienced this first-hand as we drove in and around the historic city of Dublin and through the rolling green hills and picturesque villages to the north.

Since there are no street addresses in many rural areas, we often found ourselves in need of directional help. I listened with fondness to colorful responses to my queries, complete with interesting historical details of the respective region. One couple actually invited us into their home for tea, further explanations and a hand-drawn map worthy of a treasure hunt.

I began to assume the lack of addresses was a legacy left over to maximize narrative opportunities with the directionally impaired.

Despite not perceiving leprechauns, I am still swept up in the magic of the people, whose “normal” seems to be all about:

1. Sprinting the extra mile in response to questions (caring values)
2. Sharing a story whenever possible (engaging others)
3. Spicing up narratives with self-effacing witty quips (making one smile)

I returned home to work and the world of human resources, but my experiences in Ireland and with its people are, in a way, still with me. I have been reflecting on the influence of successful cultures, including at work, and have been reading articles by experts in the field.

In his management article, F. John Reh defines culture as the values and practices shared by the members of the group and company culture as the shared values and practices of the company's employees. 

Career expert and author Heather R. Huhman suggests that listening closely to employees and customers can help mold and shape a company culture, stating that what one observes or hears (e.g. through the press, social media, conversations with employees, customers, etc.) could create or undermine great company culture.

Business authors Robert Reiss and Jeff Fox sum up the real power of culture, arguing that a successful company culture is one that has a positive and lasting impression to engage, attract and retain customers and employees. Furthermore, many business experts now agree about the need for culture management responsibilities within organizations or a designated chief culture officer.

Experts now know what the elusive leprechauns have known for centuries, that a successful culture leads to profits, e.g., the hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Post written by HRmarketer / SocialEars HR team member Monica Meyer.

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