Popularly described as “the way we do things around here” and often blamed for all that goes wrong in an organisation – understanding what workplace culture is and maximising it can be a huge benefit to your organisation.
But before we get into those benefits, and why it really really does pay to understand your culture, I want to give you an example of what culture means in action.
Culture in action
For some time we have used a meal delivery service.. You know, the ones that deliver you a box of ingredients and recipes once a week, thereby saving you the pain of having to think of “what are we having for dinner” every.single.night.
So far, nothing out of the ordinary.
And yet, this one absolutely is.
In a model created by Groysberg et al, and further finessed for a client I am working with – this organisation is “purpose” driven. A culture that many organisations identify with, but which very few actually are.
So what does a purpose culture look like in real life?
I want to give you an example of this from a customer perspective; what I observe looking in.
For this organisation, one of their key driving values is sustainability and awareness of environmental impact. Again, so far, so common. Many organisations claim to have sustainability or environmental values. So how is this one different?
It’s everything from the car that the owner drives. Through to the packaging that a customer receives. It’s the publicly stated commitment to being carbon neutral.
But culture goes beyond those big, obvious elements.
The example that most brought it home for me was when I asked the owner to complete a document that was sent to them in a pdf format. Which meant that they would need to print it to fill it in. Most organisations would literally not give this a second thought. But this organisation did, asking whether the document could be sent as a word doc so that they could complete it online and return it.
Culture is the DNA of an organisation. The recipe that drives what and why people do what they do. The rules that allow people to make decisions when it’s not prescribed.
So what …
For many years, there has been a signifiant body of research that showed the positive link between a positive workplace culture and organisational success. But now, the research has gone further still. There is research that shows that workplace culture that is aligned with organisational goals and strategy CAUSES success, not just as an incidental side effect.
If you knew that there was something you could do for your organisation that would have positive implications for all the indices, you would jump at it.. Yes???
What do I need to do?
It’s simple (not necessarily easy however).
Identify what culture you need/want to meet your organisational goals and strategy.
Map that with what you have at present.
Be prepared to have some honest and possibly tricky conversations.
Then systemically and overtly start looking at the roadmap – starting with what’s working well. Looking at how the current symbols, systems and behaviours support and enable (or don’t) the strategy/organisational goals.
Be aware. This isn’t a bring in a consultant and change the culture in eight weeks type situation.
This requires commitment in the short, medium and long term. Possibly dismantling systems and behaviours that have served current incumbents and leaders.. Definitely having conversations that might be hard. But all so worth it.
Want more still…….
If the above has whetted your appetite, and you’re keen for more.. Here are some ideas:
Are you moving into management, and want some practical, tangible skills that will set you up for success? Check out our six month programme here: JETTG MiM flyer August dates. Or get in touch if you’d like an in house programme by clicking here..
Your leadership story – Dr Erika Jacobson and I are running a four day leadership retreat in stunning Margaret River (11th to 14th November
). Walk in nature and draw inspiration from the natural world on one of Australia’s most beautiful coastal walks. Unwind, have time to refresh, reflect and creatively discover your past, present and future leadership story as a person and as a leader. Click here to check out the programme. And click here to email me that you’re interested, and to be sent a more detailed itinerary.