Every organization has a culture, which either works for them or against them. Sounds obvious, right? This being the case, why do so many organizations ignore their culture’s impact on their long term results?
One school of thought is that today’s economics don’t support the “warm and fuzzy” Dr. Phil type of cultural “therapy.” Some employees have become so shrill in guarding their incomes over the last 8-10 years that they are willing to accept doing more with less, working longer hours, and sub-standard leadership.
Organizations that are seduced into accepting this are deceiving themselves. The proof will come when our cyclical economy creates better jobs, at which point they will pay the price in turnover for ignoring their culture. There is an old business saying that states, “Culture beats strategy every time.” In the long term, I believe that to be absolutely true.
The goal of the Game is to change from Anti-Culture to Shared Culture.
Anti-Culture sounds like this:
“It’s Monday, how are you doing today?”
“Well, I’m hanging in there”,
“It’s almost Friday”, or the sarcastic
“I’m living the dream!”
In our experience, this is symptomatic of the short term “Action to Results /Command & Control” management style outlined by Roger Connors and Tom Smith in Change the Culture Change the Game (see top half of the pyramid below.) In this model, staff experiences “You’d better do this [Action] now because we need this [Result] now. At times it is obviously appropriate. Other times, it is less than effective when it becomes perceived as the normal Cultural Operating System.
A game changing Shared Culture foundationally looks like this:
· What a Team Member Experiences over time drives their Beliefs.
· Their Beliefs about their organization drives their Actions.
These Actions may or may not fulfill leaderships’ targeted Results.
What would Anti-Culture employees need to experience to change to a Shared Culture environment?
It’s all about the Shared Experiences:
· What is it like to report to you?
· What is it like to report to your boss?
· What is it like to work inside the walls of your organization?
Leaders who understand this challenge the conventional by demonstrating, over time, behaviors that create Shared Experiences with their employees. For example, as an employee:
· Am I heard at work?
· Do we make joint decisions?
· Is management fair?
· Are rationales offered for the strategy and tactics employed?
Furthermore, as Connor and Smith point out, it only takes 3-4 shared cultural experiences among staff to form a new cultural belief. When a new hire asks, ”What is it really like to work here?”, what do they hear in reply? The honest answers to that question could have great strategic impact on long term results as Culture beats Strategy every time.