Apply These 3 Secret Techniques To Gain the BENEFITS OF A GREAT ORGANIZATIONAL CULTUREJun 19, 2022
CREATING A HIGH-PERFORMING CULTURE
Culture is the behavior that results when a group operates within a set of generally unspoken and unwritten rules. Organizational Culture refers to your organization's shared values and practices.
Your Organization's Culture may be viewed as the environment that always surrounds you at work. It comprises the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, interests, experiences, and employees' behavior in the workplace. An Organization's Culture tells people how to do their work. It takes its signals from leaders. It underlies work motivation, morale, creativity, and success.
Some key points of an Organization's Culture should be put in writing. However, it is impossible to put in a single, written Organization Culture Statement of all the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and behaviors shared by a group.
Organization Culture shapes your work enjoyment, your work relationships, and your work processes. You see this culture through its manifestations by employees in your workplace. In many ways, your Organization's Culture is the personality of your organization expressed by employees through:
- Decision making
- Openness with other employees
- Stories and legends
- Daily work practices
Benefits of a Great Organization Culture
A good Organizational Culture encourages everything and everyone in it to fulfill their desires around the tasks they complete for their jobs. This results-driven workplace has high morale and motivation—and thus increased productivity. A good culture builds a more engaged and productive workplace, balancing what we do and how we do it. It is a positive factor in bringing about a more significant impact on the employees in the organization.
A good Organizational Culture is also a magnet for attracting good people to work for the organization. Business Owners, Executives, and Managers need their team members to embrace the Organizational Culture to provide the ability to scale and grow an organization to reach its maximum potential.
Three Steps to a High Impact Organizational Culture
To achieve a High Impact Organizational Culture, use the following three steps:
- Identify your current culture.
- Identify what you want the desired Organization Culture to be.
- Move everyone toward an improved culture.
Listen to My Podcast 3 Simple Steps to Improved Employee Engagement
Step One: Identify Your Current Culture
To change your culture, you need to see it for what it currently is. Your first step is to understand the culture that exists in your organization. Your assessment may or may not make you happy. Actually, your assessment may leave you exceedingly displeased. No matter what your cultural assessment teaches, you must accept that your culture is what it is.
How to Assess Your Current Organizational Culture
It is difficult for many in management to objectively assess and understand their own Organization Culture. When people are at work daily, many of the manifestations of culture become almost invisible to them. To obtain an objective picture of your current Organizational Culture, consider the following:
- Get feedback from your direct reports.
Meet as a group with those who report to you. Ask for their thoughts on what is good and what is bad about your current Organization Culture. Since it is difficult for many people to describe what the culture is like, questions asked by you of your team members spark recognition of certain things that are happening or not happening.
Contact Us for a List of Questions for These Meetings
- Be an impartial observer of your culture in action.
Although it is hard to do, try to observe a group you have never seen before with an outsider's eye. How do employees act? What do they do? Look for common behaviors and visible symbols. Watch for emotions. Emotions are indications of values. People do not get excited or upset about things that are unimportant to them. Examine conflicts closely for the same reason. How much emotion is expressed during the interaction?
- Listen to your suppliers and your customers/clients.
Consider comments expressed to you by those who interact with your organization. Look at what is written, in print and online, for information about your organization's culture.
- Walk around the space occupied by your organization and look at physical signs of Culture.
What is being communicated in the common areas of your organization's office, such as bulletin boards and objects that sit on desks or hang on walls? What is displayed on lockers or closets? Something as simple as your organization's bulletin board content and newsletters gives clues to your Organization's Culture. The cleanliness or common spaces or even tidiness or workplaces are a key indicator of culture.
- Consider what your employees are not discussing.
If nobody is discussing something that you think is important, this also helps you understand your Organization's Culture.
- How do employees communicate at work among themselves?
What do employees write to one another? What is said in memos or emails? What is the tone of messages (formal or informal, pleasant, or hostile, etc.)? How often do people communicate with one another? Is all communication written, or do people communicate verbally?
- Interview employees in small groups.
Interview your employees in small groups and ask them to describe the Organization's Culture. During these interviews, observe the behaviors and interaction patterns of employees in each group and hear what they say about the Culture. The following are examples of questions you can ask during a culture interview:
- What would you tell a friend about your organization if they were considering working here?
- What one thing would you most like to change about this organization?
- Who is a hero around here? Why?
- What is your favorite characteristic present in our organization?
- What kinds of people fail in our organization?
- What would you recommend as a question to ask all candidates looking for jobs in our organization?
- Conduct culture surveys:
Surveys taken by employees can provide insightful information about the Organization's Culture. Those taking the survey must feel confident that they are anonymous. To enhance that, you may want to hire a third party to conduct the surveys to give you that layer of privacy. You can purchase a standard survey from the web or custom-design a survey.
A standard, a non-customized survey should have interesting questions used in many other organizations. Engagement surveys are a service we offer at Results-Driven Leadership. We have the tools, materials, and methodologies to complete this anonymous survey for your organization.
There is a science to this, and if you decide to execute this step, we're sure you want to do this right. The cost is nominal and well worth it. Contact Us Here for more information.
Your Organization Culture is not Stagnant
Organizational Culture will change with or without your direction. It either moves to your desired direction or on its own. As employees leave and replacements are hired, the culture may change. If there is a strong team culture, it may not change much. However, since each new employee brings their own values and practices to the group, the culture will change, at least a little.
Even if personnel stay the same, the culture is likely to change. Of course, as direct reports age and the dynamics of their lives change, as they inevitably will, you may find the way they interact and their values at work also change.
The life cycle stage of the organization is also a factor. The organization's culture will change as it matures from a startup to a more established organization. But many other environmental factors impact Culture. As the environment in which the organization operates changes, the Organization's Culture will also change.
These changes, major or minor, may be positive, or they may not. The changes may be intended, but often they are not. The Organizational Culture will change with or without your direction, so you must direct the changes when possible.
Let's Start Improving Your Company's Culture
Once at a luncheon with several business owners, I asked them to tell me one thing they didn't like about their Organization's Culture. Here are some of the responses:
- Feel threatened by change
- Unable to admit being wrong
- The blame game
- Credit hogs
- Failure to be accountable for following established processes and systems
- Not replacing employees who refuse to embrace new Culture
- Not qualifying new hires based upon Culture fit
- Managers who are part of the culture problem
The Importance of The Manager in Culture
Keep in mind there is often a challenging but straightforward approach to improving your culture. Do not underestimate the power that managers have on the organization's culture. Managers have more influence than anyone else in your company. If you are a manager reading this, set your ego aside and accept that you are the critical element of your team and company's culture.
Over my decades of running businesses, I have found that often when a team or location has performance issues, those issues are created by the manager of that team or location. When I could either coach and train that leader to improve their management leadership skills by adopting an improved mindset, the team 100% of the time improved with them.
In cases where the manager of a poorly performing team or location would not or could not make the necessary improvements in their leadership performance, I let them go. In the aftermath of their termination, 100% of the time, the team or location improved performance dramatically.
In the past decade or more, Gallup's polls on workplace culture clearly point out the considerable impact the employee's manager has on their engagement, productivity, and retention. In the Gallup poll on this topic in 2021, over 50% of all employees who left their jobs site poor leadership and management skills by their manager for being the cause. 72% responded that they would take a new job tomorrow if a better offer came along. Why? Poor leadership and management
Let's also share the Broken Window Theory regarding your culture.
The "Broken Window" theory came from the world of Criminology, arguing that serious crimes are likely to occur where visible signs of vandalism, anti-social behavior, civil disorder etc., are observed.
Descriptively, we can view this as follows – where there's a broken window that nobody fixes, people will allow themselves to toss garbage nearby, spray graffiti, etc. These types of behaviors and environment will influence a rise in home invasions, theft, and robberies which can quickly escalate to more serious crimes such as murder.
Suppose an urban environment with broken windows encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes. In that case, we can assume an excellent way to treat serious crime is to reduce "light crime significantly".
A very well-known example of the "Broken Window" theory is the dramatic change brought by Mayor Rudy Giuliani to the city of New York. With a methodical and organized effort to pinpoint treatment of minor crimes and vandalism on the subway; and raising police presence on the streets, Giuliani and his team managed to quickly overturn the crime status in New York and received global recognition and praise.
What should a manager fix?
By now, it should be evident how the "Broken Window" theory relates to management skills. Every manager in every business organization should constantly be looking for "Broken Windows" that need fixing.
The management voice and personal example any manager should project to employees is full compliance with the organization's rules, work guidelines, and code of conduct. Those small "insignificant" details requiring meticulousness and discipline to take care of properly are the same details signaling your team about your approach in other areas and guiding their behavior based on your actions. This is a critical component of a High-Performance Culture.
The leadership gap
Fixing your "Broken Windows" is an important and clear message to your employees. One of the significant problems organizations face is the gap between the company leadership instructions and the way work is carried out at lower organization levels.
Poor productivity and a weak culture usually happens due to management's reluctance to engage in conflicting debate with employees or fear of failure. Our experience tells us employees or managers that don't follow the organization's guidelines or cutting corners will have a lower performance over time and a bad influence on other employees. Most of the time, we see such underperforming or distracting employees or managers replaced successfully by someone who manages to bring even better performance by just doing the work as expected and sticking to the instructions.
In conclusion, if you see management instructions not being performed, you are staring at a "broken window," which could potentially lead to even worse behaviors and damage your business. Such "broken window" needs to be taken care of quickly, in bold action. Failing to do so may result in missed goals, poor morale, high turnover, and even employee theft. Don't say I didn't tell you so.
Please keep this saying in mind. Employees join companies, but they leave managers!
In Our Course on How To Create a High-Performance Culture, we share ways to neutralize these negative cultural factors.
Contact Us For More Information On Steps Two and Three of Creating a High-Performance Culture.
Step Two: Identity what the Desired Organization Culture Should Be
Before changing it, you must decide what you want the Organization's Culture to look like in the future. Different organizations—profit, non-profit or government departments—should have different cultures that fit the desires of key leaders and employees.
Contact Us For Examples of Written Culture Statements to Get You Going!
Step Three: Creating the Strategy to Move Your Company or Team to an Improved Culture
Now it is time to start reshaping your Organization's Culture. You have a Written Organization Culture Statement for the environment, but this statement is meaningless unless you gain buy-in to your desired culture through actions, not words.
About the author:
Vaughn is the co-founder of Results-Driven Leadership. He is a leadership development expert, podcaster, and author. His methods are brought from his real-world experience working on the front lines and living the role of being a high-impact leader and manager. His coaching and training programs offer no theory, just common-sense advice, and direction. He is a former executive with CarMax, the world's largest and most respected company in the auto industry, and is a Fortune 100 Best Places to Work.
Vaughn's mission is to improve the impact of executives and other managers by increasing their knowledge, skills, and abilities.
His motto is "No matter what business you're in; you're in the people business."
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