We hear a lot about culture these days. It is a very broad topic. Some spend a lot of time talking about it without ever truly defining it. For the sake of this discussion, I will use the Merriam Webster dictionary definition of culture as, “a way of thinking, behaving, or working that exists in a place or organization.” This includes communities, teams of people and businesses. Some organizations do a very good job creating a culture. Others may have one they think has been implemented but it winds up merely being an idea that people talk about that is not supported by any substantive action.
Creating a culture is an intentional process. Some go about it more purposefully; some create a culture by default. Culture can form without a conscious effort and in many of those cases, it winds up being dysfunctional. Cultures can vary from one of cooperation, collaboration, intimidation, competition, performance, accountability, and the list goes on. Any guesses on what the culture is in FIFA, FIFA corruptioncharges ? Your organization has a culture, whether you are aware of it or not. Is it the culture you want? Does your organization’s culture support the business mission or strategic vision?
Are you and your organization clear on what you do and why you do it? Any team, community or organization should ask themselves these questions routinely. Once you know the answers to those questions what comes next is asking; “How do we do what we do, from our thinking, behavior and interactions, both internally and externally”?
A recent story in Inc. magazine featured King Arthur Flour Co., and about how the culture created in this 225- year- old organization has contributed to a much lower employee attrition rate and revenue over $100 million in 2014, http://www.inc.com/magazine/201506/sheila-marikar/all-hail-the-king.html. The culture at King Arthur Flour is to treat their employees well. They are a prime example of being intentional about creating their culture. The organization is also able to see tangible evidence that their culture supports the mission of the business which is to provide a quality product and treat their customers the way the owners of the company would like to be treated.
Leadership and Culture are integral to one another. In an organization, team or community culture starts at the top with leadership, provided that there is some form of effective leadership. Not every leader drives a functional, engaged or productive culture. If the definition of culture is how an organization does what it does and attitude reflects leadership, then the success of any culture falls on leaders. Any number of current news stories reflects just how imperative leadership is to having an effective culture. We have seen this in communities, organizations and teams across the country, particularly in recent months.
One of those recent stories came from an unlikely organization, the Profile school in Bethlehem, N.H. When the senior class discovered that their leader and principal, Courtney Vashaw, had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer the class decided to donate all the money they had raised for their senior trip to her medical care. Ms. Vashaw had worked hard and intentionally to create a culture of caring and compassion in her students, never knowing that someday those lessons would benefit her. Of course, that is not why she taught those characteristics to her students. This story shows that the lessons were obviously effective. Ms. Vashaw and her leadership clearly had a positive influence on her students, http://7online.com/health/seniors-sacrifice-class-trip-to-donate-to-principals-health-care-costs/744636/.
Culture and Your Business Strategy. Taking the steps of asking what you do, why you do it and how you do it should be a part of your strategic plan. Your culture should also be aligned with the strategic mission or vision. If is not, chances are that your culture is not serving the best needs of the organization, all of its assets and your customers. These are questions that should be revisited on a regular basis. Let’s face it; the busyness of any organization can impact the alignment of strategy and culture. None of us experience ongoing growth and improvement without assessing how it is all working on a regular basis and making course corrections. If this is an area you, your team, organization or community would like some help on, please contact us. We would be honored to support you in order for you to See It Thrive!
Thank you for visiting our blog page! We would love to hear your experiences or stories about effective cultures.