Strong Corporate Culture Doesn’t Mean Everyone is Best Friends

An entrepreneur was asking me questions about corporate culture and why I thought it was so important. After my usual lines about it being the only sustainable competitive advantage within our control, he said that they were having challenges with certain people getting along even though they meet their corporate culture standards. I thought about it for a second and realized he was right — a strong corporate culture doesn’t mean everyone is best friends. In fact, even with a strong culture, everyone isn’t going to like hanging out with every other team member.

A strong culture doesn’t mean everyone likes everyone else. A strong corporate culture does mean the following:

  • Common values
  • Mutual respect
  • Alignment and clarity of purpose

Of course, it’s great when people are good friends with their co-workers, and we actively want that, but personality styles don’t always mesh and we’re most interested in smart people that get things done and have our same core values.

What else? What are your thoughts on the idea that a strong corporate culture doesn’t mean everyone is best friends?

2 thoughts on “Strong Corporate Culture Doesn’t Mean Everyone is Best Friends

  1. David — as always like the daily post. I love a 2 x 2 matrix that includes performance on one axis and core values on the other for helping the team understand where they stand…and I do like the book “The No Asshole Rule” and would argue that if the core values include mutual respect then getting along is a given…

  2. I agree with the three points of what corporate culture is. Strong corporate culture is not about friendship, it is about individuals sharing a mutual respect for their organization’s goals and values and their willingness to set aside differences to achieve these goals and values together. Corporate culture creates a subculture that unites individuals within the organization. What corporate culture does not do is it does not replace a person’s primary culture that identifies who that person is and with whom they associate with– in a liking manner, so such expectations must be set aside. Although a strong corporate culture does not get everyone to like one another in an organizational setting, I believe that it is critical to instill a strong and positive culture that focuses on the qualitative aspects of operating a firm. Too many companies are out of touch with their staff, focusing on quantitative, data driven performance without giving consideration to the qualitative aspects of the relationship between employer and employee. Take care of the staff, and the staff will take care of you.

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