In the 12 years that I have spent in the industry, I have heard a lot of random ranting about Culture of an organization from people who have half understanding of what a culture is and what is takes to build one. It has been often heard and done; the leadership teams of organizations mandate their Human Capital teams to help them build a better culture. Typically these mandates come from them when the company has already hit the abysmal pit or is about to reach there. Such organizations are ready to invest time, money and effort to fix the cultural issues and have often engaged with external consultants to bail them out.
Yes, a good culture is imperative for the growth of an organization as it has a direct impact on the outlook of the company, how employees perceive the organization and the people who are a part of it. It also influences the performance of individuals, teams and organizations. In my career so far I have often heard people quitting organization due to lack of a good and vibrant culture. On the other hand, while joining companies people have started attaching mighty importance to the culture of their prospective employers. They often try and figure out “What’s the culture of the company like?”
What amuses me is that when we try to focus on fixing the culture we start by focusing on the bottom most layer of the organization. While what I understand is that the culture is built at the top and very early on in the life of the organization. It is like water, flowing from top to bottom. If my Managers and their Managers are professional, I try and to be professional, though it may take some time because I understand that an unprofessional behavior is uncalled for. If my leadership team demonstrates casual behavior, I will learn their art very easily. I have often come across teams where if a Manager comes late for a meeting he does not feel accountable for letting the team know, he/she can walk into a meeting at any time and unapologetically so!! Such people lose the right to correct their teams when their behavior is replicated. And this collective behavior becomes a key part of the culture. We start with doing such acts internally and then at client level, that’s when it starts hurting and we want to get it fixed.
My suggestion to companies trying to improve their already damaged culture is that your focus group are your top people and their focus groups would be people working with them in their teams, I am against using the term “working under them.” This is the age of smart start-ups, who are busy building on their ideas. Please do not forget that you have already started building the culture of your dream company from day one and how you behave today will lead to a good, bad, ugly of the culture.
Be professional, honest, transparent, respectful, disciplined and customer-centric, people will follow- it may take a little time for them to learn the good act. Be unprofessional, dishonest, disrespectful, gossipy, and in-disciplined, people will follow in NO TIME!!
This is the power of implicit training.