Blending Cultures for Maximum Results in Business Development: A Series

What makes a company outperform its competitors?  Why is it that some companies are able to achieve profitable quarters, year in and year out, while others struggle?  What is the mystery that allows organizations to persist year after year while others soar to the top, only to disappear a few years later? The secret is in the cultural dynamics of the organization. It all starts with proper business team development. The key to long-term success is keeping a company's vision and culture strong. This may be especially difficult as the company matures due to mergers, acquisitions and internal expansion. Maintaining a strong and positive corporate culture has become harder in our rapidly changing business environment, but it is not impossible.  Consider, for example, The Coca-Cola Company, which has been around for many years, and continues to thrive over a long period of time, despite minor ups and downs in the market.

The key to success for Coca-Cola can be found within the company’s succinct mission statement: “As the world's largest beverage company, we refresh the world. We do this by developing superior soft drinks, both carbonated and non-carbonated, and profitable non-alcoholic beverage systems that create value for our Company, our bottling partners and our customers.”  The corporate culture remains strong and focused, regardless of what avenues their competitors take, or changes occurring in the marketplace.

Think about the normal startup process of a new business. An entrepreneur brings his product or service to market.  He initially struggles to handle all aspects of the business on his own.  Eventually, he increases the business enough to hire help.  New employees arrive at the company with expertise in specialized areas crucial for growth and expansion of the original business.

New markets open and sales increase.  Additional employees with expertise and behaviors more diverse than ever before must be added. With the advent of new departments and expertise new subcultures are formed within the organization due to new behaviors and skills needed to produce the expanded product and services offerings. New, smaller and often times, more progressive organizations will be acquired or merged to build momentum and revenues.

Soon, the company develops either a fragmented or very different personality in no way resembling the focus the entrepreneur first envisioned.  If the individual departments, especially those consisting of employees of merged or acquired companies, don’t create conflict, the new diverse departments with their differing behaviors, attitudes and motivations will. This may splinter most parts of the organization while cementing only a few. A resistance to these changes can occur.

Traditionally, the CEO wants his or her employees to share the vision and dream.  In many cases, however, this dream has become a money machine that is difficult to maintain and control while trying to hold on to the same "family" atmosphere with which the business began. Enter the human resource professional, who accepts the responsibility of codifying the entrepreneur’s vision, developing principles, policies, procedures as well as job descriptions. In many cases their main functions may be to find ways to bring the diversity together, stabilize employee focus and harmony, provide intended direction from a human perspective, and assist in developing a congruent and positive working relationship between all departments. While it is rarely stated, HR professionals are also tasked with making work a positive experience.