Friday, July 27, 2012

Culture is...

Part Three in a Summer Series on Creating a High Performing Organization: 

According to our marketing partner –Preactive Marketing – the phrase “culture is…” generates roughly 20 million global hits. This indicates it is quite a popular topic and that people are interested in what culture is - and why having a high performance one is important.

We’ll share our thoughts, though we also prefer to hear from you, so share your opinion!

Culture has different meanings to different people – so how would you finish the sentence – Culture is…

I would finish it something like this:

The shared assumptions, values and beliefs of a group of people. The way in which a group of people solves problems. - Geert Hofstede

Wise words from good ol Geert. The term culture has many meanings.  Whether written as a mission statement, spoken, or just understood, organizational culture describes and governs the ways a company’s leaders, employees, customers and stakeholders think, feel and act. Culture may be based on beliefs or spelled out in your mission statement.

Simply put - culture can be defined as, “the way work gets done around here. Organizations can’t excel for the long term if they don’t have a high performance culture – for more on the aspects of creating and maintaining a high performing culture - check out our whitepaper - What is a High Performance Culture? Creating a culture that supports long term growth and sustainability.


Why is your organizational culture so important?

  • Culture has a direct impact on employee performance, engagement and retention, and thus also a direct impact on innovation, customer satisfaction, and bottom line revenue.  For example, a culture of poor communication, lack of transparent and authentic leadership, abuse of power, and inflexible structures and processes is most likely a culture that would not be categorized as high performance or sustainable for the long term ; As this type of environment wouldn't make employees want to give their best and thus negatively impact the bottom line. 

  • On the flip side, however, a positive culture can drive high performance and to create an environment of innovation and sustainability.  Organizations that have flexible processes and structures which help facilitate cross communication; encouraging people to share ideas and concerns with leadership usually excel. If people enjoy working for your organization then in most cases they give 100% engagement toward helping the company succeed.

  • Culture is the identity of a company, and because of that, in some ways it becomes an identity of those who work there, as well. The people end up affecting the culture as much as the culture is affecting them. So while there are many definitions of organizational culture, all of them focus on the same points: collective experience, structures, beliefs, values, norms, and systems. These are learned and re-learned, passed on to new employees, and continues on as part of a company’s core identity.

A company’s culture says a lot about an organization and the direction they are headed - success or failure can hinge on culture. In the words of another organizational culture guru:

The only thing of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture. If you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening.”  - Edgar Schein

So – culture is how “work gets done around here.”  To get work done well a  positive culture is needed for organizational, employee, and customer satisfaction and success. And who doesn't want to be success!

About Scott Span, MSOD: is President of Tolero Solutions Organizational Development & Change Management firm.  He helps clients to facilitate sustainable growth by developing people and organizations to be more responsive, focused, productive and profitable.

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1 comment:

  1. [...] won’t.  Acknowledge the comments being made and stand behind the culture you’ve created.  If your culture is one of open and honest communication – you will be on top of it [...]