Ecosystem Dec 04, 2017

Is Corporate Culture the latest buzzword or the cornerstone of every company? Corporate culture is hard to define but it certainly is key to a company’s success. Jeanne Pallares, Executive Coach & Founder of Aporia Coaching, and Orit Suleyman, Founder of the headhunting consultancy firm Talent & Values give you all the tips you need to define your company culture.

“The luxury of being yourself”: by being yourself, you will acquire strength that will be reflected in your every action. This will multiply the potential of your organization and your employees. The power of your corporate culture will allow you to control your business more efficiently.


1 – Your company culture is your best asset
There is a growing interest for company culture as people realize that the greatest success stories, such as Apple or Michel & Augustin, are built around a strong corporate culture. Your corporate culture will enable you to:
- differentiate yourself from your competitors
- drive your company
- recruit and do it well
- scale in the long term for better navigation through difficult times
“Culture doesn’t wait to be invited to show up: its already in the room”. Even if you don’t control it, you do have a company culture. Your clients, employees and suppliers will identify it, so make sure you can master it.


2- Your DNA and the strength of your alignment
You will be confronted with many decisions and choices throughout the life of your business. The better you know yourself, the easier it is to make the right decisions. Your DNA is what defines you.

We are going to give you some tips to help you define your DNA in three steps What / Why / How. First of all, let’s clarify what we mean by alignment. We mean two things:
- the alignment of your culture to yourself (culture is a reflection of yourself, so you can’t cheat);
- the alignment of your three DNA components (why/what/how). If you are not aligned with the rest of your team and don’t share the same DNA vision, this is likely to affect the future of your business; so make sure you deal with it.


Step 1 – WHAT: Ask yourself and your employees to define your offer in one or two sentences. This should be fairly simple. It is not an issue if your offer changes over time as you need to remain agile to adapt to market changes.
Step 2: WHY: This is your purpose and what gets you out of bed in the morning. It goes far beyond just making money: it’s more a vision, a mission, a dream that drives you because it is your own conviction. It is important to formulate it so that you can share it. It should be inspiring but challenging to achieve, so that you are always on the move.

Little Things make a big difference: their mission is to “re-embellish everyday life, inspire and surprise every day with secret addresses”.
Michel & Augustin: what characterizes their mission is the profusion of dreams or ideas. They define their mission as the following:
1. showcasing the French patissier savoir-faire throughout the world by concocting simple and gourmet recipes based on natural ingredients and super quality
2. encourage, by real-time sharing of our entrepreneurial adventure of passionate tastes, each homo sapiens and sapiens who wishes to be even more entrepreneur in his life, in life.

Step 3 – HOW: These are rituals and practices associated with your values. Values are not only words, they need to mean something. Beware of lexical fields as words do not mean the same thing from one person to another. To help you identify your values, answer the following questions:
- on what would you not compromise?
- what would make you leave the adventure?
- what do you like the least?


Examples of company’s values:
At Little Things: they claim 5 values:
1- “Wow” effect: always surprise people
2- Zero power: you can do a lot with very little
3- Embrace ambiguity: it’s better to act rather than test ideas for a long time
4- Go the extra mile: if you are not a hard worker, Little Things is not the place for you
5- Roast the chicken: Little Things regularly creates fun moments around a meal to foster creativity and solve issues

Talent & Values:
1- We love recruitment and do it in good spirit
2- Sherlock Holms 3.0: the boldness of the hunt
3- Fact checker: we are obsessed with the quality of the information transmitted to our clients
4- The luxury of being oneself invites others to be themselves: by being authentic, you encourage the candidate to do the same
5- Attractiveness for innovation and technology
Hence, decisions are easier to take if your DNA is clearly defined. Make sure that you do this exercise with your team. Know yourself, assume yourself and align with each other within your DNA.


3 - Your rituals and proof
This is what will bring your culture to life on a daily basis. You need to communicate, symbolize and ritualize your culture. While words are good to describe, objects and actions are good to symbolize. Rituals reinforce your feeling of belonging and celebrate your values.
At Amazon for example, tables are doors! Why? Because it is cheaper, and it reflects their margin culture. At Little Things, the decoration is very cozy and friendly with a lot of attention to detail. Little Things also organize a Creative Morning once a month by inviting an outsider to talk about a topic. It can be as diverse as a priest talking about love. At Goldman Sachs, reports are not signed by one individual but by the whole team to illustrate the strength of the group. Michel & Augustin rings a bell each time they win a new contract! They have a special ritual for new comers who are required to cook their best “grandma” recipe for the staff and they are given an apron for their efforts.
All of these rituals illustrate your culture. What is good for you is not good for someone else!


4- Your poisons
This is anything which is dissonant and doesn’t reflect your values. Do not make any compromise on your why/what/how.


5- Recruiting for and through your culture

Company culture attracts those who look like you and drives away those who don’t. At Athos, they train new recruits for two months and then offer them a USD 2,000 check to leave the company! Why? Because they want their employees to stay for the right reasons and not for money.
We often talk about the financial cost of a failed recruitment, but it goes far beyond cost: it impacts the rest of the team, the management team, the company image and reputation, etc.
We expect to see many more failed recruitments, because too much focus is put on skills: with equivalent or even lesser skills, you should privilege the cultural match when hiring.
How should you integrate this cultural aspect into your hiring process? It’s important to define what drives people’s motivation and performance. We, at Talent & Values, look at three dimensions:
- Mastery: this is what motivates people and stimulates their performance. People need to feel that they are good at what they do.
- Autonomy: we all want the right to decide on our actions.
- Purpose: we all need to give a sense to our actions, this is what is linked to culture. We all need to go beyond just earning a salary.
When you understand that mastery, autonomy and purpose are the three main ingredients to stimulate performance and motivation, then you can shift from skills-based recruitment towards culture-based recruitment.


At Talent & Values, we have set up the following recruitment pyramid:
1- Alignment of your candidate’s skills with the characteristics of the position
2- Alignment of the candidate’s motivation with your organization: this nurtures the need for autonomy
3- Alignment of the candidate’s values with your company culture: this is what will engage your employee in the long run


Tools kit: Zestmeup/ Supermood / Culture Amp / MonkieTies / Vadequa…



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