Organisational culture can be defined as being a system of shared meaning held by members that distinguish it from other organisations. The strengths of an organisational culture can influence the attitudes and behaviours of the organisations members. Culture defines the rules of the game; it creates boundaries between organisations, identity for it's members and facilitates a commitment to something larger than individual self-interest. Culture is the glue that helps team members work together and provides standards for what employees should say and do. In a decentralised working environment or digital environment culture is more important than ever however having a strong culture or standard set of norms is more difficult.
Seven characteristics seem to capture the essence of organisational culture. These 7 characteristics exist on a sliding scale and you can invite all your members to measure them on a scale between 1-10 to get an average of how your employees view your company culture today.
Innovation and risk taking: How much are the employees are encouraged to take risks and innovate?
Attention to detail: How much are the employees expected to exhibit precision, analysis and attention to details?
Outcome orientation: How much management focusses on results or outcomes rather than on the processors or techniques used to achieve them?
People orientation: How much the management take into consideration the effect of outcomes of people within the organisation?
Team orientation: How much activities are organised around teams rather than individuals?
Aggressiveness: How much are the people aggressive and competitive rather than easygoing?
Stability: How much does the organisation emphasise maintaining the status quo in contrast to growth?
Once you have established a culture in your organisation there are practices to help maintain it. Organisation functions like selecting new staff, performance evaluation criteria, training, learning and development activities and promotional activities ensure that employees are a good fit for the culture. Rewarding people who support the culture and penalising people who challenge it are especially important in sustaining the culture.
Some of the effective ways organisations use to help employees learn their culture are:
• Stories that can circulate within the organisation that anchor and legitimise the past and present practices.
• Rituals that are repetitive activities that express and reinforce the key values of the organisation.
• Symbols in the layout of the organisations HQ, the types of equipment the employees use, or the absence of material symbols can also be symbolic (remote working).
• Language can be a powerful way to help members identify with the culture, accept and preserve it. Unique terms can be used to describe equipment, projects, key individuals, suppliers, customers or products.
Making some space in your organisations calendar for a series Culture Jam sessions with one of our professional coaches can help develop your employees awareness of where the culture is today, where you'd like it be and how you might get there. These are conversations that inspire people to connect, discover what the work means to them and how they might contribute value towards your vision. You can find out more by visiting Coaching Conversations.
Adapted from Organisational Behaviour, seventeenth edition, Stephen P. Robbins and Timothy A. Judge.