Today’s guest post is written by Shelley Pringle

Once upon a time in a land far, far away—actually it was in Canada so maybe not that far away for some of you—I worked for an integrated marketing communication company called Promanad.

Promanad had one of the most interesting corporate cultures I’ve ever experienced. For example, new business presentations were always concluded with the declaration, “We’re not normal.”

And indeed we weren’t.

Now, corporate culture can be a pretty nebulous thing. Many factors affect it, including how people are compensated and rewarded, formal and informal policies, rituals, routines, and, perhaps most importantly, the behavior of the organization’s leaders.

The leaders at Promanad understood the importance of organizational culture. They hired Dr. Lance Secretan, a provocative leadership teacher, to help them build a successful company and a great place to work.

A corporate mission was articulated, along with a vision and three core values: Mastery, chemistry and delivery. The latter were reinforced in many ways with employees, including an awards presentation at the end of each year recognizing those who best exemplified the company’s values.

Three Values to Hold High in 2012

  1. Mastery: Undertake whatever you do in both your personal and professional lives, to the highest standards of which you are capable.Organizations can best exemplify mastery by investing time and money into coaching and professional development. I can’t think of a time in the history of business when continuous learning has been more important. Social media platforms are constantly changing and new tools are introduced almost every day.At the individual level, mastery means staying up-to-date on social media best practices, curating engaging content, and having the right plug-ins on your blog to make it successful—however you define that.
  2. Chemistry: Relate so well with others on a personal and social level that they actively seek to associate themselves with you.Clear communication, respecting other people, and leading by example are all ways companies and individuals commit to chemistry.Did you read Gini Dietrich’s post back in November about how to be charming? My favorite suggestion was: “This is about them, not you.”Don’t use a Twitter feed to broadcast information about you, don’t overtly promote your company in blog posts and please, please, please, don’t automatically link your Twitter feed with LinkedIn.
  3. Delivery: Find customers, identify their needs, and meet them.Delivery is about effective communication, listening, keeping your promises, meeting deadlines, and doing more than is expected.If you’re going to offer an opinion on Twitter, hear both sides of the situation before you click ‘tweet.’ Blog with gusto and enthusiasm. And whether you commit to weekly or daily posting on your Facebook wall or blog, follow through on your promise.

Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Promanad was eventually merged with another organization and its culture was adapted, and eventually lost, in the transition.

But I’ll never forget the leadership lessons I learned there and the creative approach taken to defining the organization’s culture.

How about you? Have you ever experienced a really unusual corporate culture? What made it unique? Are there lessons you learned there you can use in social media?

Shelley Pringle is the founder of Toronto agency Polaris Public Relations Inc., a collective of experienced PR professionals who are passionate about achieving results for their clients. You can follow her @ShelleyPringle.