Culture and Values

You cannot underestimate the importance of culture within an organisation. If your customer’s values are not aligned with yours there will be a certain friction that makes the relationship uncomfortable. Eventually this can wear you down and demotivate you and your team. Develop your own cultural values and screen potential customers through them.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.  –  Peter Drucker

What is Culture?

Stories

This element of the culture web can be one of the hardest to undo. These stories of past events, employees or even major crises become almost legend to those that hear of them. Stories can become distorted and exaggerated, not only creating negative perceptions of those involved but setting a precedent for future events.

Symbols

The symbols of the company covers not only branding, but also workplaces, products look-and-feel, company cars and so on. These symbols both collectively and in isolation can portray an unintended identity not only internally but also to external stakeholders.

Power Structures

Power does not only refer to management in charge but to any entity that holds power and influence over others. This could even be a certain team member who upsets the balance with a challenging attitude, or a long serving employee with a wealth of knowledge and experience he is unwilling to share for fear of becoming obsolete.

Organisational Structure

All organisations are constructed differently, some have fairly flat structures with very few middle managers and large numbers of employees per senior line manager and others are multi-layered hierarchies with many levels between senior management and entry-level employees. Each has it’s own affect on our understanding of our place in that hierarchy.

Control Systems

The way in which organisations measure success and failure are known as the ‘control system’. This can cover anything from bonuses and commission schemes to personal development plans. Do we try to motivate employees by dangling the carrot or (metaphorically) beating them with a big stick?

Rituals and Routines

This entails the-way-things-are-done. The regular meetings that we hold week after week that don’t seem to have any purpose or internal processes that are always bypassed or undermined without any repercussions.

What Can We Do About It?

Discover

Take the time to have a good look beyond your comfort zone. Explore areas of the business you are unfamiliar with and speak to colleagues with an open mind about the challenges they face and the cultural norms that influence their everyday working lives.

Acknowledge

Openly acknowledge the elephants in the room. Only by accepting their existence can you work with and around them whilst demonstrating to those around you that you’re willing and able to look at the big picture and make the right decisions, even if they can be tough.

Embrace

Many aspects of company culture can be positive and should be celebrated. Identifying what does work well already, will provide a good foundation from which to build on, whilst reassuring those who are uncomfortable with drastic change.

Adapt

Make small changes if possible to redirect activity in a positive way, for example changing the structure, location or participants of a regular meeting that has become stale and unproductive to encourage fresh ideas. Subtle changes combine to make a big difference to your overall business style.

Peter Drucker was correct, business strategy cannot be successful without a supportive business culture to facilitate its implementation, but by developing a sensitive, open-minded and holistic understanding of your workplace you can ensure culture works for and not against you.

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