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Culture Isn't Fluffy

You’ve probably heard the quote by Peter Drucker, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” It’s true! You can have a great product or plan, but nothing will limit your organization’s success more than an unhealthy culture.

Some people think of culture as fluffy and a concept that isn't really tangible or measurable. That's not accurate. There are many ways to measure it (which I'll get into in a future post) and it has a huge impact on your bottom line. People simply will not do their best work or stay in organizations that don’t have a positive culture - and you know how costly disengagement and turnover are. Plus, your culture comes across to your customers and impacts your reputation. Customers are much more likely to want to work with organizations that they feel have a positive culture.

Oftentimes, we think about perks like ping pong tables, free food, wearing shorts to work, when we think about great cultures. This isn’t really what is important to employees. They want a place where they can be part of something great, be treated with respect, learn, grow, and thrive.

So, what exactly is culture?

Company culture is essentially the personality of a company. It is the unifying element that holds everyone in an organization together. To clarify a little more:

  • It is made up of a shared set of beliefs, values, attitudes, standards, and behaviors.

  • It reflects the written and unwritten behavioral norms and expectations of those within the company.

  • It is the sum of everything that people in the organization think, say, and do.

There are many components of company culture including mission, values, leadership, performance management, teamwork, hiring, firing, communication, feedback, and conflict management.

You can articulate what you want your culture to be through core values, how it is displayed on your website, and what you tell others. But your culture is what is really happening within the organization where the rubber meets the road. You have to practice what you preach as it relates to culture and leaders/employees have to be held accountable for adhering to values and standards that are set.

What is the difference between culture and employee experience?

Employee experience and company culture are really just two different ways of looking at the same things. Company culture is the sum of everything the people in an organization think, say, and do. Employee experience looks at how each person experiences the workplace and its culture.

What is a toxic culture?

If you have ever worked in a toxic work culture, you probably didn't stay around for very long. A toxic culture is plagued by fighting, drama, politics, and unhappy employees to the point that productivity and employee well-being are affected.

Below are some common characteristics:

  1. Bullying and intimidation occur frequently.

  2. Coworkers frequently gang up on each other.

  3. Bosses or coworkers frequently take credit for others’ work.

  4. Employees are insubordinate.

  5. Office gossip and false accusations run rampant.

  6. The boss is ineffective or absent.

  7. Everyone operates under different rules.

  8. The environment is highly political.

  9. Supervisors don’t communicate expectations well or at all.

  10. There seems to be dark, fearful energy that flows through the workplace.

More on culture to come!

Over the coming weeks, we will be exploring culture more through this blog. So, stay tuned!

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