In 2014, Merriam-Webster announced “Culture” as the top word of the year as shown by the increase in look ups over the prior year. Not surprising as it seems to appear in regular conversations more frequently. As it relates to organizational culture, we’re referring to the unwritten expectations of what people perceive is expected of them. Culture is really the behaviors and norms that manifest themselves within an organization. Or said differently, culture drives how the work gets done.
In working with our clients, we talk a lot about hiring for “cultural fit”. Strong leaders are intentional about articulating those values and behaviors that define their corporate culture. Providing clarity on expectations and knowing those desired traits help ensure cultural alignment. Culture influences 80% of our behavior. Imagine how powerful that is to know that we could influence that magnitude of behavior by being intentional about the culture we create.
Lately, I have had many conversations about the cultural shifts that leaders say need to be addressed in their organizations. As an organization matures, scales or restructures, its culture often needs to shift as well. What served you at one time, may no longer be effective.
I had the good fortune of being a speaker recently for the Nonprofit Capacity Conference and our topic was all about “the hottest word”. We discussed that there are two things needed for an organizational culture to take hold: Results and Consequences. Both are necessary to sustain a desired culture.
5 Questions to Ask Yourself to Build the Best Corporate Culture at Your Organization
As you explore your intentions around your organizational culture, ask yourself:
- Do I have a list of values that inform our culture?
- Do these values have specific corresponding behaviors that everyone understands and can articulate?
- Are we providing clarity on our performance expectations?
- Do we measure results?
- Do we hold people accountable?
Remember a strong culture will both attract the right people and deter those who would not be a good cultural fit. Getting clarity on our culture, being able to articulate the behaviors and traits that we value and holding people accountable to results will create a foundation for a healthy, sustainable (and probably fun) organization.