What type of culture does your organisation have? If your CEO came from sales, doubtless you’ll say you have a sales culture. If he/she emerged from HR – do HR people get a seat at the top table anymore? – you might give a very different answer – you might even need to go away and think. Fact is though, most people wouldn’t know what their organisation’s culture was. “You mean do they let us play Beethoven while we work, or have a pool table in the back like Google?” Erm, no.
Culture is the way you make sense of your workplace through values,
norms, beliefs and expectations; the way you interpret how you fit in,
and what’s needed of you to get ahead, and what you can get away with.
Some organisations have cultures that emphasise teamwork, security, and
respect for individual members (aspects that usually foster loyalty and
long-term commitment to the organisation). May not be too dynamic in
business terms – we’ll call it Sleepy Hollow. Others have cultures
that emphasise initiative and individual rewards for accomplishing
specific objectives (which often foster an entrepreneurial norm whereby
employees are not committed to the organisation and the organisation
does not offer long-term security). We’ll call it Rambo. Contrary to
popular belief though, there’s no right or wrong culture. What is more
important is that everyone knows and respects their own culture even
though they may not be able to put it into precise words, except that
someone should be able to make it explicit, and there are tools to do
this. The biggest question of all is whether a culture really matches
the company’s business objectives. Does your breed of management
practices foster participation, autonomy, and creativity – all cultural
aspects proven to increase organisational performance?
And do you know what you can get away with? That’s part of every
company culture: how much eBay and Facebook you can squeeze in during a
day? How many duvet days you can take before someone notices. Or how
many grandparent’s funerals – four per year is a recommended max. Is
your culture Driving Miss Daisy? Or just driving you crazy?
Written by Helen Ross