Where Your Culture Lives

At the surface level, culture can present itself as visible symbols, slogans, languages, behaviors, histories, stories dress codes and legends. But underlying these visible signs of culture, are the core values, beliefs and shared assumptions of each employee that help define theorganizations culture.

Do not expect your culture to change simply by changing the logo, rearranging the layout of your office space or repeating heroic stories to your team. They may work to a certain degree but are definitely far from adequate to win your employees’ hearts and their minds, as well as the market. What you need is a deeper analysis and reflection of your people’s collective beliefs and assumptions. Only when you understand these in more depth will you be able to define appropriate steps to strengthen your organizations culture and effectiveness.

A recent study surveying over 20,000 workers around the world, analyzing 50 major companies, in a range of disciplines, came to one conclusion: Why we work determines how well we work (McGregor & Doshi, 2015).  Culture is actually the operating system of an organization.

Unfortunately, our attention, time and money often go to the top of the iceberg:  Behavior, words, meetings, deadlines and P&L statements get our attention and our energy.  High performing cultures have a powerful competitive advantage. Organizations that build great cultures are able to meet the demands of the fast-paced, customer-centric, digital world we live in. More and more organizations are realizing, culture isn’t a soft skill that can be left to chance. Leaders need to treat culture building as an critical foundation for their workers success. It’s no longer an option to attract smart talent and hope the results arrive. Designing a culture that is smart and healthy engineers a healthy organization with a competitive advantage and sustainable results.

When we ignore what is going on below the surface, we see organizations that hire the wrong talent, experience high turn over, burnout, and apathy. The bottom line is, not having a tight, well-designed culture has a pay check. A financial paycheck in on-boarding the wrong people, for the wrong positions. And an emotional paycheck of a toxic workplace where employees are sleep walking through the work, missing deadlines, calling in sick and missing deadlines.

Studies indicate that most employees bring to work around 20% of their potential contribution. With a well developed company culture people will bring much more. Even with a conservative estimate doubling that 20% to say 40%, it’s clear why a more developed workplace, that more fully engages employees, is overwhelmingly competitive and profitable.