By: Nabeel Momin
In every class I have taken in business school, Google is mentioned at least once or twice. If asked by a stranger whether any student would be willing to accept a job at Google, I believe an overwhelming majority would be inclined to say “Yes, of course!” So what makes Google special in the eyes of these students and talented employees? It is the culture that has been cultivated by the tech firm through the decades that draws these people to the corporation.
Google, founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page, emphasizes a culture similar to that of a startup even though the company has expanded globally. The flat organizational structure, emphasis on cooperation and talent over experience, and a push from organizational leaders promoting new “Googley” innovations from employees promote a great cultural environment that attracts so many fresh graduates to 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway in Mountain View, California ever year.
Though there are many definitions of culture, I believe one definition sticks out to me the most: culture is the “sum of values and rituals which serve as ‘glue’ to integrate the members of the organization.” Following this logic, it makes sense that culture plays an important function in successful businesses because it creates a collectivistic environment in which people share similar beliefs. Culture provides employees with an identity and a sense of belonging, a guide for acceptable and ethical behavior in the workplace, and a reason to have pride in their work for the organization. It is not an aspect of a business that can be fabricated or faked and develops from the starting of the organization when the founders establish the company. It generally changes as the organization adapts to the changing business environment and defines its core values.
In class, we discussed the dimensions of organizational culture that help a corporation differentiate from another corporation. These dimensions include level of independence, variety of tasks, time horizon orientation, etc. However, there are some basic components of a great corporate culture that we didn’t discuss in class. According to John Coleman’s article in the Harvard Business Review, these include vision, values, practices, people, narrative, and place. A vision articulates the purpose of an organization and is representative of the beliefs of its’ founding fathers. A company’s values guide employees on an ideal path to achieve this vision, defining acceptable behaviors. Practices are the method through which a company carries through with its values. Given a vision, values, and the practice of these values, people serve as a bridge to connect the three and reinforce the existing culture within an organization. According to the article, the ability to unearth the unique history of an organization and develop it into a narrative is an essential element of culture.” Lastly, the place in which the organization is located, for example, tech companies in the Silicon Valley, helps to reinforce the culture existing within the organization. These 6 attributes provide a firm foundation and are imperative to either forming a culture within an organization or reshaping an existing culture. As a result, a corporation should look at these 6 factors when evaluating their culture.
From a personal standpoint, it is important to me to look the culture of an organization before joining because it helps me determine whether I will be a good fit for the company. Often times, companies state that they are looking for talented employees that will fit into their culture. However, it is important for these same employees to apply to jobs in which they will fit and in which they will be the most comfortable. According to a recent study by Randstad, approximately 67% of employees believe that culture matters and is very important in an organization. This is especially evident when considering the list of 2014’s best multinational workplaces: Google, SAS Institute, Microsoft, Marriott, and American Express, just to name a few. What do these companies have in common? Culture.
Coleman, J. (2013, May 6). Six Components of a Great Corporate Culture. Retrieved March 24, 2015, from https://hbr.org/2013/05/six-components-of-culture
The World’s Best Multinational Workplaces. (2014, January 1). Retrieved March 30, 2015, from http://www.greatplacetowork.com/best-companies/worlds-best-multinationals/the-list
Watkins, M. (2013, May 15). What Is Organizational Culture? And Why Should We Care? Retrieved March 24, 2015, from https://hbr.org/2013/05/what-is-organizational-culture/