Organizational culture is defined as “the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization” (Businessdictionary.com, 2014). Okay, so what does that really mean and why should I care? Well, organizational culture affects all aspects of the organization with leadership serving as the role model. An organization’s performance, productivity, service/product quality, marketing, customer service, attendance and punctuality are all impacted by organizational culture. For example, if leadership is always late to work in the morning, blows off meetings, or rewards bad or unethical behavior, that behavior trickles down to the rest of the organization.
Leadership sets the tone for the organization. If you have a leader who cannot be bothered by daily administrative processes or doesn’t seem the least bit concerned that the same couple of employees continuously show up late to work then you have poor leadership. This is quite detrimental to organizational culture. Office morale deteriorates as the culture becomes more toxic. Some employees may start to slack off as they do not feel what they do really matters, while other employees may take advantage of the situation and push their own personal agenda ahead of the organization’s needs. This can be draining on all employees and can directly impact a company’s success. Employees should look forward to going into work and not dreading it.
“Organizations do not transform unless people at the top of the organization adopt new values and change their behavior. The organizational culture reflects the personality of the current leadership and the legacy of personalities of its previous leaders.” – Richard Barrets
Okay enough with the negativity. What I really want to know is what can leaders and employees do to improve organizational culture? Well, leadership needs to start by communicating their vision and keeping channels of communication open as transparency is key. When leadership doesn’t communicate the organization’s objectives, latest initiatives, and company performance, employees often surmise what’s really going on. This is how falsehoods and negativity begin to circulate. Updating employees on what’s going on within the organization and emphasizing how important their roles are will provide employees with a sense of ownership, ultimately resulting in a more positive culture and dedicated employees.
Leadership also needs to encourage feedback from employees as they are the ones on the front lines interacting with the clients. They know what is working and where improvements are needed. Additionally, leadership needs to invite new ideas, encourage creative thinking and really take note of what employees have to say. Just because something has always been done a certain way doesn’t mean that this the best or only way of doing it. This is just another way to encourage employee ownership.
Employee issues and concerns should also be addressed by leadership and not brushed under the rug. Leadership should keep employees informed of the progress being made regarding any issues or concerns as these problems may impact clients as well as the company’s bottom line.
Acknowledging employee contributions and rewarding achievements is another way leadership can contribute to a positive organizational culture. Employees don’t like to be taken for granted, nor should they be. Leadership needs to recognize those employees who go above and beyond and positively contribute to the organizational culture.
Now for employees… to find out more you will have to tune in for my upcoming blog post titled “That’s not my job”.