There is always a culture. Wherever you work, there will be a culture and the culture can either be left to its own devices or it can be consciously created, adjusted, tweaked or changed.
In a way culture is quite simple, it’s “how things get done around here”. It is usually implicit rather than explicit and can be hard to pinpoint. It is the ‘how’ of business. It is how people react, behave and interact every minute of every day. It is not something complicated or fluffy, it is something quite simple. It is the glue that holds an organisation together. The challenge with culture is that the concept is simple but the transformation can be complex and habits die hard, and to change behaviours takes time – but it can absolutely be done.
As mentioned, the behavioural norms of an organisation can be either implicit or explicit. Implicit norms are made up of behaviours we observe or undertones that we can pick up on, whereas explicit norms are what we are told to do, guided by for example the corporate values. And implicit rules will always trump explicit ones. We learn from what others do.
Imagine a company that say it values and respects people’s work/ life balance. Leaders then reward and praise people who work long hours, sacrificing their personal lives. And as well intended as that may be, we can all agree that it is not a behaviour in support of work/life balance.
Culture is all about what we actually do and not just what we say.
So if you for example want to have a culture of sharing ideas, then start sharing ideas yourself as well as putting it into people’s goals and that will help drive the behaviour of sharing. You role model the behaviour while also encouraging the same behaviour in others through the goal system.
Think about the power of culture and remember that you can make it manageable and tangible, rather than soft and fluffy – because it’s not – it is the strongest driving force of an organization and needs to be taken seriously.
And it starts with each person, every day, every minute. You are all creating it through every interaction you have. You are creating it through the behaviours you display and through the behaviours you let others get away with, any unproductive behaviours you collude with. Whether you are a leader or a team member; every interaction you have is creating the culture.
What culture are you creating today?
Mandy Flint & Elisabet Vinberg Hearn