Why Company Culture is the Single Most Important Thing in any Business

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General Manager of Corporate Traveller, Tom Walley, has had a stellar 17-year career with Flight Centre Travel Group (FCTG) and has seen the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to company culture. He sat down with legendary Sydney Swans player and premier coach, Paul Roos, and leadership and culture expert, Gerard Murphy, in a raw and unfiltered conversation on why company culture is the single most important thing in your business and more specifically, the important role that leaders play in not only preserving but improving the culture of an organisation.


What defines a company’s culture?

A company’s culture is ultimately shaped by certain behaviours of its people. These include behaviours that the business wants to reward as well as behaviours that an organisation wishes to challenge. However, as Gerard highlights, defining these specific behaviours can be especially challenging. Often companies who do not vocalise these behaviours are forced to rely on happenstance circumstances and events to define their company’s culture, ultimately leaving their culture to chance. Instead, it is vital that these specific behaviours are identified and made obvious to all staff in order for leaders to wholeheartedly and confidently reward their people as well as challenge behaviours the company does not condone. 

For FCTG, our spirit of egalitarianism, irreverence and ownership defines the way we behave:

Ownership - We take full responsibility for our business and treat it as our own.
Egalitarianism - Everyone has the same opportunities, rights and privileges. Self-important people don’t fit in.
Irreverence - We take our business seriously but not ourselves. We respect our customers, our partners and each other. 

Find out more about FCTG’s core values here.

How can Leaders impact a company’s culture?

It is important to note, embedded throughout any effective company culture is safety and trust. Safety, as Tom has witnessed throughout his time at FCTG, is a direct result of vulnerability both professionally and personally. Tom also believes it is important for leaders to lead by example when it comes to vulnerability. This is why he aims to always wear his heart on his sleeve and claims he isn’t afraid to cry in front of his people. FCTG has always encouraged vulnerability and authenticity from all its people.

“One thing FCTG prides itself on is being able to stuff up and it being ok. Being vulnerable and allowing yourself to fail gives you the confidence to have a go,”  Tom says. 

 

Trust is another vital aspect of any thriving corporate culture. The key to gaining trust as a leader, from Tom’s perspective, is being consistent not only with the job but in being there for your employees. Tom encourages other leaders to make sure they take care of their people outside of their day jobs such as remembering people’s birthdays, or when their family member is sick. Remembering these life events proves that you value your employees as people, not just appreciate them as a number.

The more safety and trust that is established throughout a company, the more behaviours that ultimately mould a company’s culture, can be called out. Gerard suggests that first and foremost this must begin with rewarding someone when they are doing something right and suggests the 4-1 method (4 goods to every 1 bad). Safety and trust are also imperative when challenging behaviours. Tom Walley’s plan of attack is to give feedback, provide a plan to improve and work through the plan together. A great culture says “you have done something wrong but we will support you through it.”

Check out the full webinar between Tom, Gerard and Paul below:

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