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Company Culture

by / Monday, 29 September 2014 / Published in Business
company culture

Company Culture = We’ve all got one, right?

Does every business have a company culture? Even a person without a personality has a personality, right?  As an entrepreneur I’ve never really thought about the “culture” of our company. Client satisfaction, service options, managing liability, marketing strategy, and profit margins are the de-facto language of business. However, HR departments within innovative companies, like Google and WholeFoods, are redefining the intention behind corporate culture.

Company culture can be a defining element of any company. A way the values and missions of management are overlaid across the entire company. An intentional and healthy corporate culture can encourage collaboration and relationships, impact client interactions, and help businesses attract and retain the best and brightest employees. That’s nothing to sneeze at!

After a business coach (Gina Danford at Red Zebra Coaching) performed employee interviews and handed me her report of findings and recommendations, I’ve had to step back and reevaluate our priorities.

In the interest of transparency, and in an effort to help promote more intentional culture within, I’m posting this blog publicly in an effort to solicit feedback on how best to create and maintain the type of culture we want at HBS.

Company Culture = Organizational Cultural

Wiki has the following definition: “Organizational culture is the behavior of humans who are part of an organization and the meanings that the people attach to their actions. Culture includes the organization values, visions, norms, working language, systems, symbols, beliefs and habits. It is also the pattern of such collective behaviors and assumptions that are taught to new organizational members as a way of perceiving, and even thinking and feeling. Organizational culture affects the way people and groups interact with each other, with clients, and with stakeholders.”

Wow. With something this important… you’d think I would have already thought about our culture! I’m somewhat ashamed to say that I have not given our culture much thought, and I’m eager to see where this discussion and future efforts lead.

Company Culture and Challenges at Healthy Building Science

We are a small business that is heavily reliant on a few excellent employees. We share a commitment to high-quality consulting, but we’re a very diverse group living all around the San Francisco Bay Area (presently: Fairfax, Los Altos Hills, Milpitas, Richmond, San Francisco, San Rafael, Vallejo, and Walnut Creek). As a sustainable consulting firm and Certified B Corporation, we cannot in good faith expect everyone to commute to a central location. But perhaps we’ve watched our environmental footprint at the cost of fostering company culture? Looking at our B Corp Scorecard it is appears we have placed more of a priority on the Environment compared to Workers, Community and Governance.

Over the past year we’ve started using Google Hangouts and Skype more. We’ve started making more mandatory in-person meetings. I’ve started making more regular internal phone check-ins. I believe this intentional effort to increase interaction has in many ways had beneficial impacts on our company culture. There must be hundreds of other ways to focus on building company culture, but in the short-term we’ve chosen to focus on one-to-one interaction time. Whether it’s a face-to-face over a desk or a cup of coffee, a game of bocce ball, or a team meeting at our favorite restaurant in San Francisco… we are intentionally spending more time together. I’m so pleased and fortunate to have the team we do.

[We have an open, friendly, honest, fun, hardworking culture based on integrity = boring, but true.]


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