Many business leaders, sociologists and psychologists have studied culture in depth and each person has their own interpretation of what culture is. Not only is there many definitions, but they preach many individual ways on enforcing and developing culture.
In my view, culture can be defined as a collective group of people possessing similar values, beliefs, attitudes and mind-set.
The main word there is similar – in business as long as a collective group are working towards clear aims and objectives and are working towards the same mission statement then you don’t have too much to worry about.
One of the main problems facing a manager is how to enforce a new culture with their employees.
Culture has to be enforced naturally and over a period of time – ramming a new way of doing things down the throat of employees overnight will have a detrimental effect. Most people hate immediate change even if it is for the better so make sure that the communication is two way instead of being enforced from the top down.
Little things define a company’s culture; whether it is the dress code or the working hours. Walking into a shop or an office, for example, and seeing the staff dressed in a formal, shirt and trouser combination compared to just jeans and a hoody speaks volumes about a company’s culture. Just small things like changing the dress code slightly can create a more professional or relaxed environment depending on what type of culture it is you want to impose.
Whenever workplace policies are changed, use tools like surveys or focus groups. They are not that time consuming or costly and surveys can be set up online and placed on the company portal.
When developing a new culture with your team, it has to be enforced positively and you as the manager have to believe in what you are doing. If it is enforced half-heartedly and with the attitude of ‘Oh well, we have to do it’ then it will not be embraced by the group. Pinpoint the benefits for the company and then link this to the benefits for the individual so that the individual will then work for the group.
When talking about company culture and culture in business, one that always comes up in conversation is Google. Under the ‘Our Culture’ section on their website, the first sentence is “It’s really the people that make Google the kind of company it is”. It also has various images of their offices around the world, and each one has been designed individually to not only match the company culture but also the local culture as well, for instance a pub style lounge in the Dublin offices.
By identifying a culture that would be embraced by the staff it is a lot easier to implement. Know your people so you know how to enforce change.
It is also very important if you are a lower level manager to control the sub-culture of the people you are in command of. Any changes that you make have to be made with the bigger picture in mind, and by the bigger picture I mean the aims, objectives and the mission statement. Create targets for your team that if achieved will help the company achieve their goal.
It is also effective to address conflict quickly. By changing the culture of a business, it is synonymous with conflict and people not adhering to change. Hold meetings with disruptive employees to try and explain the importance of the change and once again explain the benefits.
Culture is a very subjective topic and has kept many analysts awake through the night, I would like to hear your stories about company culture and how it has affected your organisation.