It can be challenging to get to the heart of what culture is all about, so consider this; in its simplest form, culture refers to the acceptable and unacceptable behaviors in your workplace. Think about what behaviors are encouraged versus the behaviors that are frowned upon. For example:
Accepted behavior: The manager accepts that the highest producing salesperson doesn’t attend mandatory meetings, doesn’t participate in team building events, and won’t collaborate with others.
Result: The message that the team receives is “The manager has different rules for different people.” And, “if you’re a high producer, you can behave however you want.”
Unaccepted behavior: Lack of preparation during meetings. The manager and team members respectfully call out individuals who come to a meeting without the data or insights they’re supposed to have in order to have a constructive discussion.
Result: Everyone on the team understands the need to contribute meaningfully to meetings and comes with the necessary information to do so.
Over time, the behaviors that are accepted and encouraged become the norm.
What it’s Not:
Culture is not the over-generalized, overused, pretty words donning the conference room wall. Words like “integrity,” “innovative,” and “collaborative.”
Culture is not what you depict on your company “about us” page on your website or in your recruiting material.
Let me clarify; if your culture is one of caring and teamwork as evidenced by accepted behaviors and norms, then by all means, the words “caring” and “teamwork” word should appear on your marketing material and website. It should be recognized and celebrated.
However, simply listing some adjectives on the wall or on your website does not make it so.
How Culture Develops
There are two ways culture can be developed; intentionally or unintentionally.
When culture is developed intentionally, it supports the vision and values of the organization. Here are some of the hallmarks of an intentional culture:
- Leaders hire meticulously to ensure that new employees align both for job competencies and cultural contribution.
- New hire training and onboarding include a deep explanation of what the company culture is and the behaviors that support and advance it.
- Reward and recognition programs are tied to accepted, encouraged behaviors
- Performance conversations reinforce accepted, encouraged behaviors and aim to discontinue unacceptable behaviors.
Culture forms whether or not it’s strategic and planned or unintentional. Unintentional cultures generally reflect the individuals in the workplace as opposed to the vision and values of the organization. Some key elements of unintentional cultures include:
- Teams and individuals operate very differently.
- There is no agreed upon definition of what “good” looks like. There are no clear guidelines explaining what behaviors are acceptable and what are not. This is largely left up to the manager.
- Behavior among leaders and managers is radically different.
- Hiring is done based on job competencies alone.
For more insights and tools on company culture, please contact Pathfinder Strategies at firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-529-0240.