How Important is Culture to an AV Company?

All organizations have a culture. It’s created either consciously or unconsciously. But how important is organizational culture and why should anyone care about it?

Our company has been looking closely at this issue for the last several years. Self-examination began when we started asking ourselves questions about who we are as an organization, why we do what we do, and why others might care.  We decided that first we needed to understand how we were perceived — by people inside and outside the company.

The exercise was very insightful. We started with an anonymous survey of our employees, who turned out to be frank and forthcoming in their answers and comments. My business partners and I spend a lot of time on our work environment. We have a beautiful office with an amazing kitchen (often the envy of most homeowners). We have monthly activities to pull our employees together in the spirit of fun. We hold summer and holiday parties, as well as other activities to engage our employees, with the intent of creating a great place to work. 

Still, the survey results gave us insight into employees’ pressure points. There were comments that brought into focus areas that we were not aware of.  It was a positive and insightful exercise.  Since initiating the survey, we’ve established a baseline and now conduct the same survey annually.

Last month, we completed our third such survey and we’re tracking our progress to give managers fresh awareness of what really matters to our employees. You see, over the past several years, we’ve been experiencing growth and change, and we’re moving at what often feels like “mach speed.”  One area that the survey clearly identified as one we could improve was the need for better communication. We realized that with change comes a sense of uncertainty, and our employees could better manage change  if we communicated better and made them feel part of the process.

We’ve also surveyed our independent sales representatives and have solid feedback from this important constituency. Our reps often are the face of our company to clients, so it was essential we get a sense of what they thought of our organization. And we recently surveyed our resellers and consultants.  This was the first year of reaching out to this audience and it’s provided us with a baseline of how we’re viewed and what is important to them.

This type of examination and the information gathered make for an excellent foundation on which to take our existing culture and build toward the culture we picture for ourselves in the future. We’ve established a strategic planning committee, which, with the help of the organization, has clearly defined and outlined our Core Values, Core Purpose and Envisioned Future.

Why does all of this matter?  Because a strong, positive culture fosters a team working towards a purpose it can believe in.  A strong culture makes it easier for employees to deal with change, handle stressful situations and take care of our customers. Everyone needs to know why we do what we do and why others should care. Every employee within an organization can get aligned around the company vision and culture if they know what it is.

I believe a strong, positive culture comes from transparency, action, clear intent, honesty, commitment and, most importantly, communication of the company’s values, purpose and vision of the future. All of us spend a great deal of time at work, thinking about work and getting to work.  If we can create shared values and business practices, we have the opportunity to love our work environment — to the point that it may never feel like “work.”   We can all grow together and learn from one another.

Have you worked in a company that has a clear and defined culture that was communicated throughout the organization?  What was it like?

Cory Schaeffer

About Cory Schaeffer

Cory is Director of Systems Solutions for QSC. She serves on the Board of Listen Technologies, which she co-founded in 1998. She previously served on the Board of Directors for InfoComm International. Cory is passionate about the industry and developing and nurturing relationships to connect people to positive experiences. She lives in Santa Barbara, California.

One Response to “How Important is Culture to an AV Company?”

  1. Having worked at several companies that had dysfunctional cultures (I should quickly add that this was before I moved into the AV industry), I believe strongly that culture is very important to the success of the company. I enjoyed reading this blog post and was nodding my head affirmatively as I read it. Nice article Cory!