July 11, 2011
Corporate culture has become a key defining characteristic that helps companies stand out in today’s business environment. This goes beyond first-impression descriptions of companies as either stodgy and hierarchical or laidback and creative. Corporate culture is crucial in helping companies handle change, confront ethical dilemmas and retain and recruit high-caliber employees.
Wikipedia describes corporate culture as the “unique personality or character of a particular company or organization that includes such elements as core values and beliefs, corporate ethics, and rules of behavior.” Others put it more simply as “the ways things are done around here.” As a new employee, I had the privilege of immersing myself in the corporate culture of Standing Partnership over the last month and learned what a huge difference it makes for employees and for clients.
Before joining Standing Partnership, I heard a lot of positive things about its strong reputation, high work standards and collegial work environment. These were no doubt important factors that influenced my decision to join Standing Partnership. A month into the job, I realize that these descriptions are mere understatements. From the welcome note signed by all employees and the lovely plant waiting on my desk on my first day to the happy hour held to welcome new employees, I found that the Standing team members are not just consummate professionals, as I had heard before, but also the kind of people you would want as your neighbors, the kind who would have your back if you needed help.
Standing’s clients may wonder how this is relevant to them. I can answer that. Two weeks into the job, I participated in one of the three so-called retreats Standing Partnership holds every year to explore one of its core values (collaboration, passion, innovation and integrity). The theme of this retreat was passion. We broke up into two teams and visited two client sites for a half-day full-emersion experience. These immersion visits have become a traditional component of Standing’s retreats and they help us better appreciate the passion our clients have for their business and cement the passion we have for our work.
My colleague Jessica recently blogged about the retreat experience. To read more about our visits to Doe Run’s facility in Herculaneum and a St. Louis County farm, please read her post here.
After the field trips, which were not only informative, but also lots of fun, we shared what we learned with each other and brainstormed ways in which we could make ourselves more responsive to our clients’ needs. We agreed that while we always try to stay abreast of our clients’ industries and issues, first-hand immersion is an invaluable experience that allows us to literally see things from our clients’ perspectives.
When we tell our prospective clients that we are capable of quickly getting up-to-speed on their business, industry or issue, we have a process to illustrate how our corporate culture encourages full immersion into our clients’ worlds.
We devoted the second part of our retreat to discussing ways in which we can preserve the most valuable aspects of Standing Partnership’s corporate culture, while being flexible to growth, new employees and new trends in the industry. By keeping employees happy, offering them opportunities to learn and manage their work experiences, Standing Partnership is better equipped to serve clients in a more effective way.
As I celebrate my first-month anniversary with Standing Partnership, I am excited to be with a company that has a corporate culture that values excellence, mutual respect and learning. I still have the welcome card on my desk. In my previous jobs, people mostly used to send farewell cards, so I feel optimistic about joining a company that makes employees feel valued from the get-go, not just when they leave.