Clearly Explaining “Culture”​

Clearly Explaining “Culture”​

“A strong culture is one that people clearly understand and can articulate. A weak culture is one that employees have difficulty defining, understanding, or explaining. A strong culture is said to exist where staff responds to stimulus because of their alignment to organizational values. In such environments, strong cultures help firms operate like well-oiled machines, engaging in outstanding execution with only minor adjustments to existing procedures as needed.

Conversely, there is a weak culture where there is little alignment with organizational values, and control must be exercised through extensive procedures and bureaucracy.”

Can you believe this gem was found on Wikipedia?

~Shifting Gears~

Do you ever get the question: What is the culture like?

In this article, I am going to do my best to peel back a few layers of the onion “culture” and hopefully give you a definition and an exercise to help you clearly understand and convey your corporate culture.

First, if culture is a tough question, please know you are not alone. There are cultures & subcultures within companies. It is tough to identify, explain, and sustain “culture” but it is paramount to the success of a business.

“Culture encompasses the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of a business. In other words, culture is a set of shared assumptions that guide behaviors. This pattern of behaviors and assumptions is taught to new members as a way of perceiving, thinking, and feeling. Thus, organizational culture affects the way people and groups interact with each other, clients, and with stakeholders. Organizational culture affects how much employees identify with an organization.” -Another Wikipedia gem

This quote above is an excellent starting point with a lot of layers to peel back.

What we are trying to understand about culture is the social and psychological environment of our business and how it affects our company’s employees, clients, and stakeholders.

It is the leadership of a company that is responsible for identifying, explaining, and sustaining a clear organizational Culture. It is the leadership’s responsibility to define organizational culture and set a social and psychological environment where it can positively affect the company’s employees, clients, and stakeholders. Lastly, a leader has created a strong “culture” when everyone who interacts with the company can clearly explain the culture.

Sample Questions for Leaders:

  1. What are our company’s values?
  2. What behaviors do we want in our company?
  3. What assumptions should our employees have?
  4. How would these assumptions guide our employee’s behaviors?
  5. How do we want our employees to perceive our environment?
  6. How do we want our employees to think in our environment?
  7. How do we want our company’s environment to feel?
  8. How will the way our company’s values and behaviors make our employees behave and feel?
  9. How will the way our employees behave and feel positively impact our clients and stakeholders?

Questions to ask your employees:

  1. What do you believe our company’s values are?
  2. What behaviors do you believe our company has?
  3. What assumptions do you believe our employees have about our company?
  4. How are these assumptions guiding other employees’ behaviors?
  5. How do you perceive our environment?
  6. How do you think when working in our company’s environment?
  7. How does our environment make you feel?

I hope this helps you get one step closer to identifying an organizational culture that your employees, your clients’ and stakeholders can clearly explain.