Some of us still treasure Peter Drucker's statement, "Culture eats strategy for breakfast," probably because the culture side of this equation was ignored or minimized for so long. Yet, strategy and culture undoubtedly go hand-in-hand and both critically matter! It's important for groups to come together to identify shared values and identify how they will treat each other in achieving the group's strategy.
Organizations spend a significant amount of time on vision and strategy, yet rarely any on workplace culture. So, we know where we are headed, but there is little clarity about how we will behave together in getting there.
You probably already know that each workplace has a different personality and "feel" to it. Most of the time, a workplace culture has come to be by happenstance over years. Some still work well and some clearly are getting in the way of how a group needs to interact to meet today's challenges.
Workplace culture involves determining what values the organization or team embrace, how people treat each other and how power is used. Workplace culture is made up of the patterns of beliefs, values, rituals, myths, and sentiments shared by the members of a team, unit, department or organization. The culture influences the behavior of all within the group.
Often when values are identified by senior leaders, they are not cascaded throughout the organization in a meaningful process, so are not embraced, integrated or lived by a majority. Values listed on postings or websites do not have the power of people identifying the behaviors that demonstrate the values and bringing them to life in a day-to-day practical manner. Even when values are determined by leaders, people in each department could come together to discuss what they mean for their group in terms of their behavior.
We've been increasingly engaged to help teams develop intentional workplace cultures. A beginning place is to have all members of a team come together to dialogue and determine their shared values, then identify the behaviors that correspond to these values. Even in workplaces characterized by significant discontent and conflict, group members are amazed to learn that they have many shared values and are energized to work together to reach agreement on the behaviors that demonstrate their shared values. It's critical to have a plan to keep this process alive, including a process to continually evaluate how each individual and the team is doing.
Zappos' CEO Tony Hsieh believes ". . . the research has shown that the power comes from the alignment, by having values and a point of view and beliefs and passion for whatever it is that you stand for."
And, Zappos is regularly near the top of Fortune's "Best Place to Work" List!
Organizational development consultant, coach, facilitator, trainer