What Is Culture?
Dictionary.com defines organizational culture as the customs, rituals, and values shared by the members of an organization that have to be accepted by new members.
A specific example of culture in the workplace might include all the employees showing up for work between 7:55 and 8:10. Why this time range? Did all the supervisors demand it? No, not at all. This is just the way it is. This is the group norm. As employees have been hired into the company, these new employees just realized that this was around the time that most employees arrive to work. They followed the culture of the organization. Herd mentality.
How Is Culture Created?
Let’s say you just started leading a certain organization. As you spend time getting to know your organization over the first few weeks and months, you begin noticing that there are significant problems within the culture of the organization. What do you do? As the leader, how can you change specific things you don’t like about your culture?
You can’t create culture, at least not immediately. You can’t force a culture on an organization, either. But, there are specific steps you can take to begin the process of reshaping your current culture.
Here are some thoughts on shaping or reshaping an organization’s culture.
5 Steps To Shape Your Culture
- Write about it. In all of your organization’s written communications, figure out ways to include quotes, articles, and interviews that reinforce the desired outcome. And, the more written communication from the very top leaders, all the better.
- Talk about it. At any and every opportunity, such as in meetings or conferences, talk about the culture you desire to take root in your organization.
- Dispense it. In your organization’s leadership hierarchy structure, the vision must successfully move from the top down. The top leaders get with the leaders under them, then those leaders take it to their teams, and so on.
- Live it. All the key, highly visible leaders in the organization must model the desired culture, or it’s never going to take place.
- Reward it. You can’t force a specific culture on your organization. It either happens or it doesn’t. But, you can reward behaviors, though, to get those to stick. Financial bonuses or other significant gift rewards given to individual employees publicly in front of their peers has the potential to bring cultural changes.
Questions: Do you have experience in shaping or reshaping organizational cultures? What has been your experience in shaping cultures? Do you have anything to add to my five steps above?