What Happens When Organisations Ignore Culture?

What Happens When Organisations Ignore Culture?

We’ve all heard phrases such as “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and “culture is what happens when you aren’t there”.

Many organisations forget to take the time to identify their culture, or to agree what their culture should look like and feel like for the organisation to be successful. This means a culture grows by accident, and may or may not lead to success. This article helps you to think about what the organisation should focus on to establish a successful culture.

Culture should start at the top, but without time and effort, it grows from the floor. Here are our top 10 tips for ignoring the importance of culture:

  1. Never share the main goals of the organisation with all employees

  2. Don’t have communication processes that keep all team members informed of progress and changes

  3. Never consider having staff representatives to provide an open forum for consultation and communication

  4. Don’t identify a mission statement or vision that can be shared within and outside the organisation

  5. Don’t take the time to check the shared values of the team and establish the top 4 tangible values and their associated behaviours

  6. Don’t spend any time embedding values into documentation, communication and accepted behaviours

  7. Draft an employee handbook and put it somewhere that nobody ever accesses it

  8. Ensure the handbook is a generic, off the shelf legal version that doesn’t reflect what the organisation values, and how it wants to be represented

  9. Make sure none of the supervisors and line managers have any management training

  10. Make sure nobody has read any of the employment policies and when they are needed they are a complete surprise.

The result of our top tips will create a successful laissez faire style of management or a need to micromanage every employee. Neither of which result in a motivated workforce. There may be pockets of success, or the business may be very small or benefit from a highly charismatic leader whose values are innately clear and the workforce chooses to follow. Any multi site business, or any business with over 20 employees may find that even with charismatic leadership and tight teams, the culture is intangible and inconsistent.

It isn’t rocket science to turn our top 10 into positives, but it does take time and energy. There is a need for champions across the organisation and a sense of clarity from the top. Taking time to involve teams is imperative and from that documentation and communication will flow. Values take time to embed. A fresh look at values may take 6 months to crystalize and a further 18 months to 2 years to embed to a point where everyone’s behaviour is reflective of those values, and those who depart from the values are brought back into line by their peers as much as through management processes.

So, in a busy workplace, why would you invest the time and energy in making this work? For us, we believe there are 3 good reasons:

  • To demonstrate you are a professional company that means business, thereby improving efficiency and productivity from the existing workforce

  • You will attract the best talent in your field, and their value set will match those of the organisation

  • You will demonstrate to clients or customers that you have a clear identity and if they choose you based on the way you work and the way you behave, you will do your very best to meet their requirements

We consider that the investment is worth it. Having key individuals inside the organisation with passion and energy and a desire to make it happen will progress a positive culture, but sometimes you might need a little help…