Culture Is tangible; it can and should be deliberately created and managed.
Defining culture has been done very well by Ned Morse who describes culture as the result of what is said and done (including what is overlooked and accepted) over a period of time.
Culture is the net result of behaviours, systems and processes that create a shared understanding of “the way things are done around here”
Culture is created in your team and you company whether you define it or not.
And that is where things become difficult – because changing a culture once established takes time, deliberate and persistent effort.
It also means that you need to make changes on the levels that create culture.
- systems and processes
- symbols and symbolic activities
Take for instance a culture where people do not really work together and instead just do their own role in isolation.
To change that culture to be more collaboratively will need changes made to aspects such as:
- how influencers in the team and company behave (they need to lead the role modelling of behaviour about working together)
- the design and requirements of processes and procedures (to require collaboration)
- recognition of those who behave in the desired way
- some form of discouragement to those who fail to collaborate
- obvious symbolic changes such as co-location of those who need to work together.
Research shows six key factors
These critical factors are:
2. Employee engagement
6.Creativity and innovation
For you to deliver culture change you need to attend to these six areas.
This is why leadership skills are essential. An effective people leader will take actions and make decisions that will improve those other 5 factors.
Those factors can also be used as a measuring stick to assess how effective your culture change program is.
When you think about it, if you are witness to or part of a culture that feels unhealthy, then these are the factors that probably got your attention.
If employees are not engaged in their work they probably “goof off” or need to be directed in their tasks.
An engaged employee is one who offers their discretionary effort – in other words, they volunteer knowledge and assistance.
The way in which employees communicate with each other, customers and suppliers is also an indication of the type of culture you have.
Remember that different companies target different cultures. A sales company will have a more competitive culture than a hospital will have. And the sales company would not succeed if they had the same caring culture that a hospital may target.
Culture is not a one size fits all concept.
Effective Leaders Do Three Things About Culture
1. Be aware of the type of behaviours that you want to see in your team and your company and then focus on creating more of those
2. Make good use of the systems and process of support and ensure that they are updated and maintained to encourage and reward the desired behaviours
3. Hold yourself and the team around you accountable to behaviours that align to the desired culture.
This includes being willing to take action on non target behaviours.
Culture is tangible and can be changed.
Because humans are so very good at drawing conclusions and interpretations so many aspects of culture and beliefs are rarely discussed.
Effective leaders are deliberate about the culture they want and will take overt steps to communicate that to others.