Business leaders throughout the world know the difficulties in creating a culture in the workplace. These difficulties are amplified when businesses expand from their home markets to the global economy. Culture building in a global company means gaining familiarity with local traditions in new locations and balancing staff autonomy with corporate goals. The most successful companies in the world are capable of developing culture in business operations that evolve over time.
Aspiring business leaders need the skills and networks to usher in organisational cultures for international businesses. Aston University’s online MBA programme attracts students throughout the world who want to understand the global economy. This programme includes courses in change management, leadership, and communication that are critical to managing teams at home and abroad. Graduates of Aston University are able to heed the following lessons on creating successful cultures in any business environment.
Understanding the state of global organisational culture
Before creating global organisational cultures, corporate leaders need to know the current state of affairs in cultural development. Strategy&'s 2018 Global Culture Survey asked more than 2,000 executives and mid-level employees their thoughts on creating a culture in the workplace. This survey found 65 percent of respondents felt that culture was more important to job performance than strategies and operational plans. Strategy& also discovered a big difference between executive (63 percent) and employee (41 percent) responses on whether their company cultures were strong.
We can use Aon’s 2018 Global Employee Engagement Trends Report to find the implications of global cultural development. The professional services firm found a 3 percent increase in revenues for every 5 percent increase in employee engagement levels. Aon discovered a 6-point increase in overall employee engagement from 2011 (59 percent) to 2017 (65 percent). This positive development was offset by the company’s recognition that offices in North America and South America reported flat or lower engagement levels during that time.
Creating and living common values
A common issue for global businesses is defining broad terms like culture and values. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) identifies various value types that are useful to businesses of all sizes. These values include respect for people, innovation, stability, and focus on team-building. Culture building often requires blending these values to achieve desired financial, personnel development, and public profile outcomes.
SHRM also notes that choosing values to assemble a business culture must be followed by living those values. This important step in creating a culture in the workplace starts with founders and executives demonstrating values on a daily basis. International companies have also used slogans, imagery, and physical representations of values as reminders to employees. Google changed the slogan “don’t be evil” to “do the right thing” as a founding principle in 2018 following changes to the code of conduct. The original slogan was ubiquitous enough that it was used as the wireless Internet password on the company’s commuter buses.
Infuse freedom to own ideas
Expanding businesses don’t have the luxury of tracking every move made by employees throughout the world. This limitation should be viewed as an opportunity to encourage employee ownership of ideas as a cultural component. The Young Entrepreneur Council detailed the importance of ownership in businesses of all types in Inc. An organisational culture that values staff ownership over policies, processes, and products creates clear responsibility and inspires better results.
In the council’s Inc. article, they interviewed Voices.com CEO David Ciccarelli about the impacts of ownership on his business. Ciccarelli said that each individual’s success on projects they own contributes to the company’s success. Voices.com uses real-time dashboards visible to all staff to hold everyone accountable and show progress that sparks a competitive corporate culture. Cables & Sensors CEO Diego Orjuela also notes in Inc. that giving employees the right tools and the room to succeed creates trust that translates into a strong business culture.
Place culture in public view
Development of corporate culture should not take place behind closed doors. The most successful companies in the world expose cultural development to public scrutiny through presentations, blog posts, and online feedback forms. 6Q highlights companies like Netflix, Grammarly, LinkedIn, and HubSpot that have presented their cultural documents and changes through public platforms.
LinkedIn’s Culture of Transformation presentation includes values like transformation, integrity, and humor. Grammarly’s Culture Code presentation encourages employees to be empathetic, gritty, and ethical. As these presentations are updated, consumers and employees alike see organisational culture examples as living documents. Culture building as a public exercise also shows the confidence of a global business in its values.
Acknowledge and respect regional differences
As a company moves abroad, the resiliency of its culture and values can be tested when dealing with regional cultures. These challenges range from locally observed holidays that are highly valued by employees to language barriers that can create embarrassing gaffes. WilsonHCG recommends steps like observing local holidays, understanding highly valued demographic groups, and cultural immersion for employees involved in new operations.
Several corporate culture examples detailed by CBC show the pitfalls of expanding globally without respecting local trends. American home improvement retailer Home Depot attempted to expand into China starting in 2006. The company purchased local stores to convert to their model but failed to account for local licensing rights, home decor preferences, and consumer interests. eBay attempted a similar expansion into China in 2004 but failed because Chinese consumers wanted online transactions rooted in local ties.
Aston University’s online MBA programme trains future executives to avoid these issues through global business courses. MBA students network with other students around the world along with faculty members who understand how to create a culture in business. Aston University allows students to choose concentrations in global business and organisational development that are ideal for aspiring global business leaders.
6Q (n/a). How to Grow a Positive Company Culture with a Remote Team. Retrieved from https://inside.6q.io/how-to-grow-a-positive-company-culture-with-a-remote-team/
Aon (2018). 2018 Employee Engagement Trend. Retrieved from https://www.aon.com/2018-global-employee-engagement-trends/index.html
CBC Radio (2017, January 18). Passport Revoked: When Brands Fail Internationally. Retrieved from https://www.cbc.ca/radio/undertheinfluence/passport-revoked-when-brands-fail-internationally-1.3942237
Conger, K. (2018, May 18). Google Removes ‘Don’t Be Evil’ Clause From Its Code of Conduct. Retrieved from https://gizmodo.com/google-removes-nearly-all-mentions-of-dont-be-evil-from-1826153393
GrammarAllie (2014, January 15). Grammarly’s Culture Code (Company Values). Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/GrammarAllie/grammarlys-culture-code-company-values/2-ETHICALBe_honorable_earn_trustby_doing
Society for Human Resource Management (2018, August 13). Understanding and Developing Organizational Culture. Retrieved from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/understandinganddevelopingorganizationalculture.aspx
Stenger, T. (2016, July 5). Employee Experience: Maintaining a Global Organization Culture. Retrieved from https://www.wilsonhcg.com/blog/employee-experience-maintaining-a-global-organizational-culture
Strategy& (2018). Global Culture Survey 2018. Retrieved from https://www.strategyand.pwc.com/global-culture-survey
Wadors, Pat (2015, March 10). LinkedIn’s Culture of Transformation. Retrieved from https://www.slideshare.net/PatWadors/linked-in-culture-deck/4
Young Entrepreneur Council (2017, June 12). 6 Strategies for Creating a Cohesive Company Culture. Retrieved from https://www.inc.com/young-entrepreneur-council/how-to-develop-the-cohesive-culture-you-want-in-the-workplace.html