What is the purpose of your organization?  What do you want to be known for—both inside and outside your company?  You might not have a Department Of Culture Development, yet the development of culture should be a clear and compelling goal that saturates your entire organization, whether you are a profit or nonprofit entity.

Culture needs to be tied to the organization’s purpose in a way that creates alignment with your game plan. There needs to be cultural evangelists within your organization that helps people stay connected to the vision.  If this is not intentional you run the risk of having a culture that will either slow down or contradict where you want to go.

Organizational culture could be likened to a personal reputation.  As we exist together we develop a reputation—something unspoken but strongly present.  A poor reputation can be at best, unpleasant, and at worst, poison to those who are exposed.  Culture, can either repel or propel employees, customers, partners, and prospective hires.

You do have a culture.  And it goes far deeper than just keeping employees happy.  It’s connected to your strategy.  And it’s there whether you are aware of it or not.  So make sure it’s the one you want.

How is this done?  It happens by establishing communication at every level of your organization—both up and down and across all departments; i.e. throughout the entire system.  It’s real time feedback describing current reality, not some far off aspiration.  This is how you learn what your culture is.  You can’t be intentional without this information.

You can’t get to where you want to go if you don’t know where you are.

Culture is made up of the thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and actions that happen by default unless you are intentional about changing it.

The good news is that when this is clear you now have criteria for hiring the right people who fit the culture you want.  They might be highly talented, but if they don’t fit the culture, more damage than good will be done.

Culture is also one of the great levers that help your organization accomplish its objectives.  With the right culture your mission, vision, and core values will be enhanced.  It might seem invisible, but it’s powerful like the current in a river.  It moves things.  It’s a driving force.

Culture also informs and guides the progression path of people in your organization.  How are they viewed?  Is there a growth path that is also aligned with the company’s values?  Does your workforce see your organization valuing both people and results?  Is the organization interested in the individual’s well-being and personal mastery.

Culture moves this.  There is no choice on that.  But your organization has a choice on which direction it will move.

Culture also helps the organization and the individuals in it accomplish their dreams.  There should be alignment in the aspirations of the company and the employees.  It is powerful in keeping everyone aligned with the vision.  It breeds effective communication up and down the chain of command.  It ensures the best care for your greatest asset—your people.

And here’s the payoff.  There is alignment with your organization’s game plan along with continued growth.  Culture connects the individual to the strategic plan.  Each person feels like a strong contributor impacting the big picture.

The results:

*Alignment—everyone going in the same direction

*Attunement—an emotional connection as you tap into people’s passions.

*Action—alignment informs what people think, and attunement provides motivation and energy to act.

Is your culture a part of your business strategy?

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4 Responses
  1. Robin

    Thanks for that timely advice! I’m going to have my grad students (curriculum/leadership) look at it and discuss. I’m stealing your stuff.

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