The term “corporate culture” can mean different things depending on who you ask, but in general it’s a combination of values, goals, attitudes and practices that help define an organization for those who can watch from the outside. It is also a reflection of how people are expected to behave and can expect to be treated in the workplace, often expressed through policies and procedures. It shapes critical business elements such as workflow and communication.
Does your self-storage business have a clearly defined culture? If not, it’s time to bring the internal decision makers together for a conversation. Without consensus in this area, it will be difficult to set the company’s tone and expectations for existing employees and new hires.
First, culture matters to your candidates. You want to attract workers who are well suited to your business; but how will you do that if you can’t communicate who you are as an organization? By establishing a strong culture and making it clear in your job postings and descriptions, you’ll attract prospects who identify with the spirit of the company. There will be fewer surprises during the onboarding process. You will also improve employee retention, as employees are more likely to be satisfied with their roles.
A strong culture can also help reduce disagreements between staff members, as employees are more likely to agree on how things should be done. When conflicts arise, it should be easier to resolve them by relying on the fundamentals of the business.
8 cultural types
If you haven’t yet defined a clear working culture for your self-storage operation, it can be difficult to know where to start. Around the world, eight types of corporate cultures have been identified, according to OC Tanner, a provider of employee recognition software and services. Let’s take a look at each of them to see which one may be right for your organization.
Culture of Adhocracy. These companies tend to grow and change quickly. Their employees are very flexible, which can be a strength. However, it can also be a difficult environment for people who are resistant to change, as things are constantly changing.
clan culture. There is a family atmosphere, which can be both welcoming and exclusive. Everyone seems to share similar goals and values, but this can make it difficult for some employees to voice their ideas or opinions, especially if they go against the grain.
Customer-centric culture. Here, the customer is at the center of every decision and action. Employees are often empowered to respond quickly and easily to customer concerns, but they may also feel less important to the property.
Hierarchical culture. This type of workplace strictly adheres to structure. On the one hand, there is a clear chain of command and everyone knows their place. On the other hand, communication tends to be limited to those in higher positions. Employees may feel that their opinions are not valued.
Market-oriented culture. These companies are known to be product-oriented and highly competitive. This competitiveness tends to occur within the organization itself as well as across the industry as a whole, which is incentivizing but can be challenging for those with a less driven nature.
Goal-oriented culture. All employees are encouraged to support a common cause, and staff tend to be like-minded. Retention rates are often high, but motivation and earnings can be low.
Innovative culture. This type of business encourages ‘thinking outside the box’. Employees feel comfortable brainstorming and often have a direct path to corporate leadership. There can also be a risk of burnout, as there is constant pressure to come up with new ideas.
Creative culture. Employees are encouraged to collaborate and create “stories” that move customers. Great creativity forges powerful working relationships, however, constructive criticism can be a challenge, as can the pressure to be perpetually imaginative.
Choose a path
As you can see, your self-storage culture can take many forms. The above definitions are just a starting point. For starters, your culture should align with the beliefs and values of the company’s leadership. Their principles should be at the heart of your corporate identity. Next, consider the general characteristics that best fit the organization as a whole. What qualities make your operation stronger without creating unnecessary friction?
If you’re an established company but don’t yet have a well-defined culture, you can also consider what’s important to your employees. Talk to them and pay close attention to the dynamics and inner workings taking place within your business structure. Once you have a good understanding, you should be able to make informed decisions that will help steer your workplace in a direction that aligns with your values and goals.
Put it to use
Once you know what cultural traits you’d like your self-storage business to adopt, it’s time to make things official. Define your culture in writing in your employee handbook and share it with all staff, old and new. Meet with team members to discuss and address any questions or concerns they may have.
The last step is the most difficult but also the most rewarding: you have to be up to it your corporate culture on a daily basis! Leadership must set a consistent example for employees to follow. Practice what you preach and make the adjustments and improvements you feel are necessary to achieve the desired results.
The right company culture should keep your self-storage employees excited and engaged. This keeps everyone moving in the same direction and minimizes malicious and negative actions. When your core values and guiding principles are documented, there is little gray area as to how you want things done.
Continue to assess and engage with staff on cultural issues, as they are the ones who largely put them into practice. If you want your work environment to be competitive but your employees to be more customer-oriented, it might be a good idea to move into the middle. Once established, your culture is more than just one owner and vision, product or service. It’s a reflection of your business as a whole.
Allicyn Bowley is Director of Policies and Procedures for Self Storage Science LLC, a provider of auditing, consulting and property management services. With 10 years of industry experience, she is responsible for minimizing liability, ensuring policies are up to date, and overseeing company locations in Colorado. To reach her, call 720.707.9277; E-mail [email protected].