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Authentic culture: Exploring the depths with SmartySurface level culture vs authentic culture
Dan Lambourne
Dan Lambourne
 • 
June 3, 2024
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Navigating the depths of corporate culture

In today's business world, many companies create a surface-level culture within their company structures but stop there, never seeming to invest fully in deepening a healthy culture. Surface-level culture can be visually appealing and immediately gratifying. Imagine, for example, a delicious cake. It’s beautifully decorated but tastes off or is missing an ingredient that spoils the final product. An intentional and deep culture is hard work. It takes time, action, correction, and honest feedback from everyone in the company. A healthy, authentic culture sustains and nurtures a company's workforce over time.

The illusion of engagement: Surface-level culture

Surface-level culture is characterized by its focus on aesthetic and ephemeral perks such as unique or trendy office spaces, casual dress codes, and occasional team celebrations when a new revenue metric is met. While these elements can contribute to a fun atmosphere and can even serve an important function for some employees and businesses, they might not necessarily address deeper employee needs or contribute to genuine job satisfaction and engagement.

Consider this: an office might boast that it has an ice cream machine and on-site amenities. However, if these flashy elements don’t align with its employees' values and daily experiences, its employees can feel disconnected and superficial.

The substance behind the style: Authentic culture

On the other hand, authentic culture is built on the foundation of meaningful relationships, trust, and a deep understanding of the values that drive the organization. This culture acknowledges and addresses its employees' real challenges and needs, offering support and growth opportunities beyond superficial, surface-level engagement.

Intentional and authentic culture is about alignment and consistency between what a company says and what it actually does. It’s about actions that support the physical, emotional, and professional growth of its people. This type of culture takes time, effort, and communication. Did we mention time? And this can and does make businesses shy away from creating their own healthy and committed culture.

Smarty’s commitment to authentic culture

At Smarty, we have found a culture that we value and feel is important to work on. We strive to see others as more than a vehicle or a way to do our job. Through a multitude of avenues, we take time to meet and get to know those we work closely with as well as those we may not interact with often or at all. We ask them what parts of their jobs are hard or cause stress and try to see how what we do in our job roles may intersect and affect them in theirs. Here’s how we do it:

  • Purposeful activities: We design team activities that foster genuine connections and teamwork, not just fun for fun's sake. These include collaborative projects, trainings, and activities in and outside of work, which align with our corporate values (These activities are often fun. Fun activities can still serve a purpose.) Some of the fun activities include: Lagoon days, arcades, lunches, company trips, Top Golf, and much more.
     
  • Supportive environment: Our lunches and team meetings are more than just gatherings; they’re opportunities to share, learn, and support each other’s professional journeys and personal well-being.
     
  • Encouraging open communication: We emphasize transparent and open communication, ensuring team members feel heard and valued. This openness fosters a sense of belonging and loyalty. It also helps provide anyone in the company with the surety that their voice matters, and they trust that they can speak up when they see a potential error or problem.
     
  • Investing in growth: We provide opportunities for professional development and personal growth, recognizing that investment in our team’s skills drives our collective success. This truly sets Smarty apart. Our drive to become wizards may seem funny or even cheesy, but this is something that is at the core of our company. We’re often and openly encouraged to spend time learning and growing our skill sets. These trainings take many forms. Employees are encouraged to attend classes and trainings in order to better our craft, as well as trainings that help improve our culture specifically.
     
  • Valuing individuality: We see each employee as unique, with distinct goals and aspirations. Understanding and supporting these personal aspects helps us build a more cohesive and motivated team.

Building depth in culture

At Smarty, we understand that a truly effective culture is one that involves more than just the perks. It's about creating an environment where employees are genuinely engaged, feel valued, and are supported in their professional and personal growth. By focusing on building an authentic culture, we ensure that our team isn’t only prepared to meet today’s challenges, but it is also equipped and excited for future opportunities.

And if you're in the job market, feel free to check out our open job listings here. Or, if you want to learn a bit more about Smarty's culture, check out this blog post… Or this one… Or even this one.

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Navigating the depths of corporate cultureIn today's business world, many companies create a surface-level culture within their company structures but stop there, never seeming to invest fully in deepening a healthy culture. Surface-level culture can be visually appealing and immediately gratifying. Imagine, for example, a delicious cake. It’s beautifully decorated but tastes off or is missing an ingredient that spoils the final product. An intentional and deep culture is hard work. It takes time, action, correction, and honest feedback from everyone in the company.