I was facilitating a workshop when the question of corporate culture came up. I asked the group what their culture was and one of the business leaders confidently replied, ‘we don’t have one.’
I had spent 3 days with this team and watched them arrive late every morning despite agreeing the start time every evening. There were always client calls to be resolved, they were clearly distracted. At a point, I wondered why they had embarked on the workshop when they clearly weren’t committed to it.
They were the complete opposite of another group who were all seated ten minutes before each workshop. The group had strict protocols which included separate eating areas for those categorized as senior staff and junior staff. It was interesting how everyone supposedly ‘fell in line.’ No one dared to arrive after the CEO.
You see, every team and organisation has a culture.
Corporate cultures are like careers, if you don’t choose your culture, a culture will emerge anyway. The only problem is, you may not like the culture that formed.
Corporate cultures are observable behaviours. They represent corporate values in many ways. They impact on relationships, code of conduct and work policies. What is generally accepted depicts the culture and what is consistently performed regardless of what is on paper is the culture. We are what we repeatedly do, regardless of our intentions.
Speaking about right or wrong cultures, there’s no one size fits all. The right culture is the one that delivers business results. Business results can be subjective and vary across organisations, thus, the need to be clearly defined by key stakeholders.
You change culture because it’s not delivering the desired results. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
If you are not clear on your current culture, it is worth auditing your organisation prior to mapping out a desired culture. That way, it’s clear what needs to be done to close the culture gap.
And when all is said and done, know that leadership behaviour amplifies corporate culture.
Nothing tangible will happen without a deliberate leadership effort in word and deed.
You can choose to intentionally shape your corporate culture or you can allow it to happen.
Which will you rather do?