Corporate Culture by Design

Marilyn SanfordsmartPRENEUR Blog Series

According to Katie Heinz in an article entitled Types of organizational Culture, “…it is defined as shared values, attitudes and practices…. It is the personality of your company and plays a large part in your employees’ overall satisfaction.”  

A Common Goal and Purpose

Culture helps inform the entire team.  It connects people to common goals and purpose.  Think of it as the links in a supple chain, that is both strong and pliable. Additionally, according to a 2019 Glassdoor study, 77 percent of adults would evaluate a company’s culture before applying to an open position.” “… (with) more than half ranking an organization’s culture as more important than compensation.”  A “2021 study revealed that 94 percent of people managers believe a positive workplace culture helps retain employees.”

A healthy company culture withstands and adapts to inevitable challenges.  When well-articulated and expressed throughout the business, culture can attract what is needed including talent, processes, customers, even the resilience to respond and adapt to the unexpected.

Bailey Reiners states, “76 percent of organizations ask job candidates to complete personality tests. Doing so helps companies understand their strengths, weaknesses and gaps and build a company culture .”   I did this for years.  This did several things:  it helped us better understand the candidate and assess their cultural fit, it gave us a tool to help us better manage the employee and it reinforced to the candidate our commitment to our culture.  

Culture Fit

Some believe that cultural fit means there is no diversity, no challenge, that everyone reflects the same mindset.  In an article written by  Bailey Reiners,   ‘Culture Fit: More Harm Than Good? 12 Experts Share Their Take’, quote “…. when (a firm is) small and agile with innovative ideas….— everyone is working toward one goal together with the same mindset”.  She further explores a concept called Cultural Add, that embraces diversity in employee hires.  “Rather than hire for culture fit, companies should seek candidates who have something new to bring to the table, who have different backgrounds and experiences from their own.”

Reiners suggests that Silicon Valley Leaders tend to base their hiring decisions on one of three main categories:

  1. Skills
  2. Learning agility or raw intelligence
  3. Cultural fit

A Stanford study found companies that hired for culture fit were significantly less likely to fail.   “This changed as the firm grew and went public.  As the business matured, cultural fit was seen to feed hiring bias whereas shifting this to consider culture adds consciously looked to add to the corporate culture through diversity, helped manage what traits may be missing.  Culture Fit, is looked at as a possible hiring bias where Cultural Adds, seeks to address what’s needed in the culture.”    

More and more candidates are looking for companies that align with their core values.  In her article, 56 Core Values examples to guide your organization, Reiners talks about the principles and priorities that guide an organization’s actions. “They represent the foundational commitments and deeply held beliefs that allow a company to navigate complex situations while keeping their identity and culture at the forefront.   Getting this right, is essential in today’s market, not only to attract long term business relationships and clients, but also to attract long term committed employees.”

Where firms deal with technology, new innovations and are adjusting to continual dynamics in the marketplace, as is the case with Custom Installation, it may be necessary to think about cultural adds.    It is for these reasons that it is important to be clear on your company culture and to be conscious of how it impacts your firm. Ours is a detailed business, with continual changes in both the market and the technology.  Your company culture is critical to the flow and effectiveness of your business.  And, even if you are not applied, not clear, not express in your culture, it exists.  It may be a valuable exercise to ask your employees to define your culture.  This may provide valuable insights. 

Here are some thoughts to ponder while you reflect on your company’s culture, taken from various articles.  

  1. “Focus more on the core values and habits that will make someone successful at your organization and less on superficial traits that will have no bearing on success.”    Bailey Reiners 
  2. “Sometimes it’s about being open to considering how a different kind of personality or experience could positively shape our culture. That said, there are a couple of traits that we can’t see trading for anything: a generous, collaborative spirit, and internal motivation driven by curiosity and growth.”  says Brock Ferguson, Co-Founder of Strong Analytics
  3. “Culture adds seed a resilient culture by challenging groupthink that can come from just hiring for fit,” says Moore. “Culture adds have the will and skill to think differently, so proactively infusing them into the culture is vital for growth. If you want your company to continue to grow and evolve, your culture must grow and evolve along with it.”
  4. “If you’re going to add to our company, if you’re going to help us extend our lead and help us dominate this niche, then we want you here. It’s not a matter of if you fit. If you’re good, you will fit.” says Anthony Skinner, CTO at
  5. Here is a list of corporate core values, click to open. 
About the Author

Marilyn Sanford

Marilyn is a Professional Accountant. She spent 23 years running trade based businesses, offering Low Voltage Custom Integration solutions to demanding and discriminating customers for high end residences and businesses. She has served on boards, taught in her Industry and is a Fellow of the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA). Marilyn Co—founded Smart fx in 1992, merged with La Scala in 2000 and later acquired LaScaIa in 2007. Over the years running a custom installation business, she learned what it takes to run a profitable business dependent on construction timelines. These insights and lessons learned, delivering ‘skilled labour’ as a primary service offering, were the seeds that grew the LincEdge concept.