Company culture: where the magic happens

When you’re a customer experience company, it might make sense to focus on a customer-first approach. But when it comes down to it, your own company culture is where it all begins. It’s the people you work with every day—whether sales colleagues or IT teammates—who make exceptional experiences possible.


And that’s what we’re looking at today in this third of our four-part series about company reinvention.


First, what is company culture? It sounds lofty. Really, it’s all about patterns in values, the language your employees use, how you work and other habits. To get a better feel for your company’s culture, ask yourself a few questions:



  • Which stories do employees love to tell? Listen closely, and you’ll hear the same anecdotes again and again. This company folklore can say a lot about your values.
  • What does your workplace look like? Open spaces can foster collaboration, while closed doors can help workers focus without distraction. And while we’re at it . . .
  • What do your people look like? Do you have a dress code or is it jeans and sneakers all the way? (For the record, we like to be comfortable.)
  • Do employees “feel the love”? The Harvard Business Review found that employees who felt they worked in a caring environment had higher levels of satisfaction and teamwork. They also showed up to work more often.
  • Are you inclusive? Diversity comes in many forms—you can’t always see it. Is there anything about your image that might turn off some of the best and brightest? Don’t forget about intellectual diversity. For example, if most of your employees come from one industry, you might benefit from branching out.
  • How do new employees learn? Some companies take a self-directed approach, while others provide mentors. Ask around to see how and what people first learned.
  • Where does your cultural influence begin? It should start with the CEO or president of the company, who should clarify goals and encourage the behaviors you want to see throughout your organization.
  • Do you have a code of conduct? If so, do employees follow it?


Do you see some areas in which your culture could improve? Remember, you can’t change a company’s culture overnight, says Microsoft board member John Thompson. He recounted that when IBM was forced to begin competing with smaller, more agile companies, the company had to adopt a new sense of urgency. To make changes stick, he says, be consistent.


Here at NCR, we’ve made our corporate values—integrity, respect and teamwork, to name a few—clear to everyone on our team. But just saying them out loud doesn’t make the magic happen. From the top down, we practice our values every day—and we reward our teammates when they do the same.  We also know listening is important, so that’s what we do. Because of feedback we received from our employees, we’re reinventing our onboarding process this year. The new program will help nearly 6,000 new hires each year feel more welcomed and an integral member of our unique culture.


How would you define your company culture? Would you make any changes?