WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

Blog archive
Nick Wakeman

Welcome to the new era of corporate culture

As I watched the finalist videos at the Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards gala last week, I noticed a single word getting used over and over by the executives as they described their companies: culture.

Each executive was asked to use three words to describe their companies as they spoke about their markets and capabilities, and the concept of culture and what it means to employees kept coming up.

This idea of culture and its importance is something I’m noticing more often as I talk to executives about their companies. And employees are at the center of all this talk.

“I’m most proud of creating a great place for great people to work,” said Sunny Bajaj, president and CEO of Digital Management Inc., a finalist for contractor of the year in the $75 million to $300 million category.

A video from the awards program, which is produced each year by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, the Professional Services Council and Washington Technology is available. You can watch the videos here.

“Our employees carry our reputation in their hands every day,” said Ignacio “Iggy” Balderas, CEO of Triple Canopy, a finalist for contractor of the year in the greater than $300 million category.

Of course, I’ve heard the talk of culture from the first day I started covering the market in the mid-1990s, particularly when people talked about mergers and acquisitions. Back then, the talk of culture seemed more like a check box.

But about a year and a half ago, I interviewed Todd Stottlemyer, CEO of Acentia about the rebranding of that company. He talked a lot about culture, and connected the idea of company’s culture and identity into how you run the company. Acentia also was a GovCon finalist in the $75 million to $300 million category.

Since that conversation with Stottlemyer, the frequency of executives bringing up culture and articulating its importance has grown. Stottlemyer even wrote a column for us about it last month. We’ve also run several columns by Eileen Rivera about culture and communications. Here is her latest.

This talk of culture is more than just marketing-speak or companies wanting to do something "touchy feely". It reflects a fundamental fact about today’s market – these are tough times.

  • Competition is more intense, so your culture can help differentiate your company from others in the market.
  • Clearly articulating your purpose and mission helps managers and employees make better decisions, which can translate into positive financial results.
  • Profits are under pressure, so financial rewards are harder to come by for employees, but putting a focus on the company’s purpose and mission, the value of employees and quality of life can bridge some of that gap.

Bottom line, in tough times, you have to know who you are and what you do, and your customers, employees and partners benefit from that.

It’s no surprise to me that the top companies in the market – which the finalists for the GovCon awards represent – are so focused on culture. They know it makes good business sense. 

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Nov 05, 2012 at 7:24 PM


Reader Comments

Wed, Nov 7, 2012 Dain Dunston Austin, TX

Great column and right on. Culture is not soft, not optional and not something for a checklist somewhere in HR. It is the fundamental "state of being" of your company. Either you have the culture to innovate and execute better than the others, or you don't. Culture building is fundamental to leadership and to sustained return on investment. Thanks for posting this.

Tue, Nov 6, 2012 Scott Killingsworth Atlanta

Thanks to recent behavioral science research, the salutory effects of a positive workplace culture can no longer be dismissed as speculative or "warm and fuzzy" thinking: they're real, they're measurable, and they've been measured. Here is a newly published review that explains, and places in a coherent conceptual framework, diverse findings from recent behavioral science research about how leaders can most effectively develop an organizational culture that demonstrably impacts employee commitment and compliance. The paper concludes with several practical suggestions for putting these learnings into action. It's a free download at http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2161076

Mon, Nov 5, 2012

Many CEO’s see HR approaches as “Over budget, after deadline, and we still don’t know if it works?” Executives are demanding increased intelligence on the workforce but, they also crave the rigor and business approach that they find in all other areas of the organization like finance, marketing, and operations. We help companies to provide a business oriented process approach around culture development and leadership, while cohesively providing prioritization, trending and forecasting, and most importantly a BUSINESS IMPACT approach. By using key metrics and CEO valued processes, we can bring culture management into a consistent approach, just like every other key area of the organization like finance, marketing, and operations. http://www.psculturematters.com/about-us/current-company-culture/ Bryan K. Short Vice President PS Culture Matters

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

What is your e-mail address?

My e-mail address is:

Do you have a password?

Forgot your password? Click here
close
SEARCH
contracts DB

Trending

  • Dive into our Contract Award database

    In an exclusive for WT Insider members, we are collecting all of the contract awards we cover into a database that you can sort by contractor, agency, value and other parameters. You can also download it into a spreadsheet. Read More

  • Is SBA MIA on contractor fraud? Nick Wakeman

    Editor Nick Wakeman explores the puzzle of why SBA has been so silent on the latest contractor fraud scandal when it has been so quick to act in other cases. Read More

Webcasts

  • How Do You Support the Project Lifecycle?

    How do best-in-class project-based companies create and actively mature successful organizations? They find the right mix of people, processes and tools that enable them to effectively manage the project lifecycle. REGISTER for this webinar to hear how properly managing the cycle of capture, bid, accounting, execution, IPM and analysis will allow you to better manage your programs to stay on scope, schedule and budget. Learn More!

  • Sequestration, LPTA and the Top 100

    Join Washington Technology’s Editor-in-Chief Nick Wakeman as he analyzes the annual Top 100 list and reveals critical insights into how market trends have impacted its composition. You'll learn what movements of individual companies means and how the market overall is being impacted by the current budget environment, how the Top 100 rankings reflect the major trends in the market today and how the biggest companies in the market are adapting to today’s competitive environment. Learn More!