Over time, every company and organization has to redefine their “culture”.
Christopher Hann writes in Entrepreneur Magazine: “Company culture often derives directly from the personal and professional values of the founder or CEO, which means that it’s unique for every business.”
Culture is defined by E.H. Schein as this: “The set of shared, taken-for-granted implicit assumptions that a group holds and that determines how it perceives, thinks about, and reacts to its various environments.”
Every organization has a culture and I agree with Hann that this primarily comes from the founder or the CEO. What happens over time though is that this culture is challenged. Sometimes it changes, sometimes it just matures, sometimes it is forced to adjust by outside or internal issues, however, there is still a unique culture.
Culture affects everything. It affects how your team works together, how they get along, and how they connect outside the office. It affects how success is measured, how impact is evaluated and how leadership sets the bar. It affects what the organization looks like in the community, who the organization partners with and what people say about you behind your back. Culture affects everything!
Organizations that don’t pay attention to their culture or don’t try to define it tend to:
– Have more turnover of employees and staff members
– See less motivation on organizational goals and targets
– Experience less organizational pride by individual members
While organizations that develop and maintain their culture tend to:
– Have deeper mutual trust and cooperation among team members
– Experience fewer disagreements with the decision-making process
– Have a strong sense of organizational identification
– Have better communication among leadership and team members
Hann goes on to share that these 4 things help organizations to sustain their cultural development:
1) The CEO and senior management team must play an active role in defining the culture, then reinforce it through their words and deeds.
2) The reinforcement must take place on a regular, if not daily, basis. You can’t live the culture only when the mood strikes.
3) All employees, from the boss to the newest hire, must embrace the culture.
4) A company must hire people who will be a good cultural fit.
Years ago I had an experience with a team I was a part of. We decided to play in a community football game, and we invited everyone to come and be a part of the experience. We all wore matching t-shirts, we were loud and obnoxious, we laughed together and had fun. We didn’t win the football game, but we realized real quickly that the purpose of us being together wasn’t the football, it was the culture. I remember others came up to me later in the week and asked what we had done to get everyone to come out and spend the day together. I simply said that everyone wanted to be together. As I look at it now, the truth is that we had a “culture” and what we reinforced that day was our culture. That experience did more for team building and community awareness than anything else we could have planned. We had 2 people ask if they could join our staff because of the way they saw us at that game. The reality was that after the game, we all went over to one of our members homes and had dinner together, and we laughed, relived the game and just enjoyed being together. The following week, the office was “alive” with energy. Relationships were deeper, trust was strengthened and we were all proud to be a part of this organization.
When I think of culture, this experience is the image that I stick with. It wasn’t something that was created by an event. It was something that had been nurtured on every level of our organization, and at that time, in that place, we all experienced it together.
Don’t underestimate the POWER of culture.
What are you doing to keep it alive in your team, in your organization and in yourself?