Nataša Dobre, direktor ljudskih resursa, Beograd na vodi

Corporate culture as the key to investors’ success in the Serbian market

Everyone has already heard that corporate culture "eats strategy for breakfast". And yet, there is no general recipe for building that best corporate culture that carries the strategy to its full realization. There are so many variables in this equation of success that common denominators are practically invisible or at least difficult to spot when you compare different businesses, company stages, markets and all other components that significantly affect a company's identity and the identity of its most important factors - people.

If we take a more isolated segment in the evolution and life cycle of companies, the moment in which businesses (start-ups) are created or the moment when significant transformations - acquisitions or mergers - take place, it may be possible to find that connection that leads large investments to success in the market. When we want to get to know a company and understand its corporate culture, it is best to start from the values that its employees promote as individuals. It is also important to look at the way and process of making important decisions, as well as the reaction to the products and services that the company provides. The picture that these three segments give us is far more objective than the one we get when looking at the values the company is officially promoting. I strongly believe that these three segments are quite sufficient for a quick and rough assessment of the success of start-up operations and the success of the integration process in the acquisition and merger of business entities from the aspect of people management.

As a participant in start-ups and the integration process, I would say that there are several specific individual values that are key to success, and that if a critical number of individuals live by those values - success is almost certainly guaranteed. First of all, it is the deep individual need of some people to take ownership of a particular company process and the outcome of a process or task. If a person puts himself in the position of the owner of something, it means that he is responsible for the end result of the process and that poor results hurt him, and good results support the feeling that he has increased the value, not only financial, but different values, e.g., the priceless user experience. As a result of the increase in the mentioned values, such an employee also increased the general perception of his own value and contribution. Various terms that people use today imply this very important predisposition to success, such as, for example, entrepreneurial spirit or a sense of responsibility, but in the essence of taking ownership of the outcome of a process and task lie many competencies and, more importantly, values that are important to man. It is primarily the feeling that as a member of a certain organization, such a person needs to prove himself through contribution, to put his capacities in the service of achieving the goal, to be able to make decisions, to have a high degree of responsibility towards the community he belongs to and to be ready to cope with all obstacles to achieving the goal in order to bring out a positive result. What I have noticed is that when a company has a critical number of individuals especially in key functions who are able (not only able but it is natural to them) to put themselves in the position of the owner of a process and outcome, results really get achieved, no matter how complex the context may be and no matter what obstacles stand in the way.
The second quality that successful teams have includes individuals who, in addition to the entrepreneurial spirit, also have the need to help others grow and to selflessly share their knowledge, their insights, their know-how and thus strengthen the foundations of the entire organization. Without this quality, the entrepreneurial spirit itself can give short-term results, but with this quality, continuity and transformation are ensured, which guarantees sustainability on the market.
As the third attribute of individuals in this equation of success, I would single out trust as an incredible essential value in a team. People who trust each other and who implement projects through collaborations can manage stress and change, and cope with the only constant in the market - and that is that change is necessary and inevitable.

The second segment we can take a look into is the way decisions are made. If we have individuals with a highly developed entrepreneurial spirit, they naturally strive to work in an environment that encourages independence in decision-making and where important decisions are made with the participation of relevant individuals and where powers are such that managers are empowered to make a wider range of decisions in their field. Any complication of the decision-making process on a large number of levels can not only slow down the system but also actually demotivate people.

The third segment where we look for indicators of a successful culture is the reaction to the products and services of the organization. If employees have confidence in the product / service provided by the company, the chances are much higher that the motivation, affiliation and willingness to make additional efforts will be higher in all individuals. And it has long been known that dedicated and satisfied employees generate great customer satisfaction.

In times when market transformations frequently occur and in which organizations abandon traditional structures and move to project and networked organizations, entrepreneurial spirit, knowledge transfer, trust, empowerment in decision-making and belief in company products, all of which a corporate culture is based on, become factors that increasingly determine the success of organizations.