'These people (indicates an external team standing alongside) are going to be running our culture change programme. And I'm telling you. You lot (indicates audience of employees and their managers) need this!' And, having said this, the CEO, director, executive or senior manager sweeps out slamming the door. A hush settles over the assembled audience. Follow that!
Hmm... So where do you think that an organisation's culture comes from?
Might the culture of any organisation be an outcome of the whole situation or as some call it, the system? Suppose it is the many, many relationships and interactions between all the elements at play within an organisation and with the whole external environment in which it operates that determine the culture.
We have seen at the beginning of this article how there may be clues to malign influences within an organisation. Suppose the organisation works within some totalitarian state where it can literally be fatal to express a dissenting opinion? There have been countless throughout history. What sort of culture and behaviours might that environment be liable to evoke within the organisation and with its customers or service users?
There are always exceptions and I believe that largely there is good within human beings. So in terrible situations there will be a few outstanding acts of kindness, bravery and creativity. Sadly, conversely even in the most moral societies there can be random acts of evil. Critically, of all the elements at play within an organisation, it is the values in action than exert one of the most powerful influences.
Individual, organisational and societal values are the key to an organisation's culture. Perhaps no one has greater influence on and responsibility for the values in action than the leaders. If leaders demonstrate in their policies, actions and what they say, for example, that customers are the primary focus, surely this must yield increased engagement and commitment that would be important in the release of creativity and innovation to serve those customers? How else will a business attain and maintain competitive advantage? Surely change is inevitable and should be ongoing. Isn't guiding and encouraging change the key work of management and especially providing leadership? This includes the way they relate and behave with everyone. Surely this cannot be delegated?
Note To any CEO, director, executive or senior manager and, where appropriate, their boss(es) contemplating 'changing the culture' in their organisation. Are you prepared to behave differently? Just a thought.