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Use your company culture to gain competitive advantage



Culture represents the beliefs, ideologies, policies, practices of an organisation. It gives the employees a sense of direction and also controls the way they behave with each other.  Organisational culture can be a valuable source of a firm’s competitive advantage since it shapes organisational procedures, unifies organisational capabilities into a cohesive whole, and provides solutions to the problems faced by the organisation, and, thereby, hindering or facilitating the organisation’s achievement of its goals.

Culture impacts on how the organisation performs. Culture is the key to good performance. This was proved by researches carried out on a number of organisations with different cultures.  It was concluded that such organisations will not yield the same results from implementing same strategies because those organisations with a positive and strong culture made an average individual perform better whereas a negative and weak culture could demotivate outstanding employees leading to underperformance and end up not achieving organisational goals.

Therefore organisational culture has an active and direct role in performance management.
Research has also shown that if employees have the same norms and values as the organisations have, this can increase the performance toward achieving the overall organisation goals.

It’s therefore vital to ensure that the individual’s values and beliefs are aligned to the organisation’s values.
It’s therefore very important that recruitment policies are structured in such a way that they will attract and engage incumbents with the same beliefs and values that constitute the organisation’s culture.

This will ensure that new employees will fit into the organisation culture much faster and thus further strengthens the corporate culture.
If an organisation has to improve performance it is essential that organisations align their corporate cultures with performance management systems.
If the organisation culture is aligned to performance management systems employee behaviour will result in the achievement of organisational goals.
Employees will be motivated to achieve the goals. If the performance management system rewards certain type of behaviour, employees will then behave likewise thereby encouraging the required culture.

If the culture of an organisation is to impact positively on the performance of the organisation it’s very important that the culture creates a conducive working environment.  The culture of the organisation controls the way employees behave amongst themselves as well as with people outside the organisation. A healthy culture encourages the employees to stay motivated and loyal towards the management and therefore employees will do their best to perform better.

This will create a healthy competitive environment wherein fellow workers want to perform more than their compatriots and earn recognition and appreciation of the superiors.  However the organisation must have set guidelines for the employees to work accordingly.

Every employee should be clear about his roles and responsibilities in the organisation and know how to accomplish the tasks ahead of the deadlines because there will be set guidelines, policies and rules. A culture that will motivate employees to perform exceptionally well should make employees feel that they are treated equally and no one should feel neglected or left out. Everyone should feel part of a big family regardless of background.

The work culture should unite all the employees giving the employees a sense of unity at the workplace. An effective organisation empowers its people.  As a result executives, managers, and employees are committed to their work and feel that they own a piece of the organisation. People at all levels feel that they have at least some input into decisions that will affect their work and that their work is directly connected to the goals of the organisation.

Thus every employee is clear with his roles and responsibilities and strives hard to accomplish the tasks within the desired time frame as per the set guidelines.  Implementation of policies is never a problem in organisations where people follow a certain culture.
The work culture promotes healthy relationship amongst the employees. A good healthy work culture will extract the best out of each team member ensuring that the organisation’s objectives are met.

An organisation culture binds the employees together and provides direction for the company. This aspect can be an advantage or a limitation in times of change when the organisation needs to implement a certain strategy in response to the environment.
Changing the culture of an organisation can be a big challenge depending on what type of a culture the employees are already accustomed to.
Employees tend to take time to change to new ways of doing things.

A highly bureaucratic and well-structured organisation typically follow a culture with extensive controls where employees follow standard procedures. Such an organisation will take time to adopt new ways of doing things.
However an organisation that is used to operate in a competitive environment may not be restricted by hierarchies but would rather follow a competitive culture which responds to external forces in time to take advantage of changes in the environment.
In a turbulent world that is being experienced these days organisational culture should be adaptable to environmental changes especially those driven by customers. Adaptable organisations continuously change and improve their systems with the main aim of providing value for their customers.
Performance is enhanced in organisations in which employees are like-minded and hold similar beliefs and ethical values that align with business objectives.

In such organisations employees are encouraged to build teams that are performance oriented and work towards achieving the objectives of the organisation. An organisational culture that does not promote team work can demotivate employees.
A culture which makes other employees feel not part of the organisation will not encourage employees to work harder to achieve organisational goals because they consider themselves not to be part of that corporate culture.

Sometimes performance is affected if an organisation has two or more different cultures operating in one company: the sales department might have a culture where each member participates in decision making and can speak his mind whereas in production employees might not be allowed to be outspoken.

In such a case the two cultures will impact performance differently: the sales personnel will feel part of the decision making and hence will be motivated to achieve organisational goals whereas in the production department employees will feel alienated and therefore will not perform at the highest level possible.

For an organisation to harness the efforts of all its employees it should ensure that its culture is consistent, coordinated and integrated throughout the organisation. You can use your organisation culture to set you apart from your competitors. Use your culture to create a differentiated brand, or to attract and retain loyal and motivated employees, and build strong relationships with your customers, suppliers, and partners.
Your culture represents your unique core values, beliefs, ideologies, policies, and practices of your organisation which your competitors cannot replicate. Remain true and committed to your core values that represent your company culture and you will have competitive advantage.

l Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy (ACCA P3), advanced performance management (P5) and entrepreneurship.  He provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.

For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts: or WhatsApp +266 62110062.


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