September 20

If culture is everything, why is it that …..

If culture is everything, why is it that most organisations don’t have a culture document, statement or map?

Is it because its too hard, too complex, or that most people just don’t understand it?

I’ve been involved in recruitment and workforce development for more than a decade, and one of the key things I’ve heard from business owners, managers and HR departments over that time (as well as EVERY business coach or consultant I have ever met) is that culture is everything.

Yet in more than a decade, I could count on one hand the number of organisations I’ve worked with, who had documents of any format that I’ve seen, explaining or profiling their organisations culture.

So if we all agree that Culture is everything, why then do we spend so little time on it? Defining it, documenting it, building and maintaining it?

As a recruiter, I always maintained that the first and most important consideration when recruiting a new hire was alignment to corporate culture.

But if you don’t know what the culture is, how can you align it?

Likewise when considering an employees performance in the workplace. My first consideration was how well they aligned to the culture. But often trying to understand what that “target” culture was, was near impossible.

Managers would often say one thing, staff saying another. Two different departments would have three or more different interpretations of what the culture on site was.

I would hear things like “we have a culture of team work here” – where the environment was clearly competitive.

Culture is typically derived from the interpretation and implementation of your company values – the set of rules that determine “the way we do things here”. It is influenced by your Vision, Mission and Purpose.

It’s not something printed and hanging on the wall, it’s the living, breathing execution of the organisations business by its people.

The truth is, the organisation with the most aligned Culture wins.

And its not that without a document your organisation has no culture. Every organisation has a culture, whether it’s the one you’d prefer or not.

But without a documented culture, its pretty hard to know if your on track, hiring, promoting and rewarding the right people and keeping a large or growing organisation aligned.

Culture is not some black magic.

Its pretty simple. It’s the way we do things here. It’s the implementation and consistent execution of the rules you set out for your organisation.

And it’s the secret ingredient to organisational performance and success. Get it right and your on a rocket ship. You’ll have less people problems, and better overall performance.

It does take time, and it does take effort, but if you’ve got staffing problems; finding them, keeping them or getting performance from them, perhaps its time to take a long hard look at your company culture.

As former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner said:- “I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game”.

So, if you truly believe that CULTURE is EVERYTHING, the #1 agenda item on your next strategy meeting or planning session has to be a discussion, documentation and implementation of your ideal company culture.


OTrain has some great tools to help you define and improve your company culture including Culture Surveys, training materials and onsite consulting services. Contact us today to learn more and how we can help.

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