If culture is the glue that holds people together and can generate or thwart performance, we need to pay more attention to its often invisible power.
Culture is the essence or spirit of a team, department or organization. It is a specific collection of values, norms, fears, beliefs, assumptions, rules & meanings (spoken/unspoken, written/unwritten, formal/informal) that intentionally or unintentionally influence behavior and results delivery.
Katzenbach provides some insight in his HBR article “Culture Change That Sticks” http://hbr.org/2012/07/cultural-change-that-sticks/ar/1 He recommends we:
- Match Strategy and Culture – Does the DNA of your organization align with your current value proposition?
- Focus on a few critical behavior shifts – What three (not 25) behaviors most reflect your mission, vision and values?
- Honor (and validate) the strengths of your existing culture- What makes you unique and differentiates the way employees believe, feel, think, act?
- Utilize and integrate formal and informal interventions – Are formal mechanisms (reporting structures, decision rules, comp/benefits and company events, etc.) aligned with informal practices (leadership modeling, cross-functional networks, manager/employee connections, storytelling, etc.)
- Measure and monitor cultural evolution. Make it easy to notice when culture is helping or hindering performance by checking in on it. What do you feel in the office, hear on the phone (underneath the words), observe in interactions and sense in communications?