Creating a winning organizational culture

Have you ever been to a firm or enterprise that drains the energy out of you? Picture this: you walk into a premise in need a service. The attendants are chatting in the back office. The receptionist is on a personal call. Your attempts to get someone’s attention are ignored as everyone minds their own business. It can be very frustrating to encounter such a scenario.
What causes such mayhem in an organization? Culture. The business dictionary defines organizational culture as the “values and behaviours that contribute to an organization’s unique social and psychological environment. Aristotle, the philosopher once said, “We are what we repeatedly do.” At its core, an organization is a living organism made up of people, their values, behaviors and experiences. What they do shapes the organization and ultimately reflects in performance of the organization.
Instilling an organizational culture that motivates employees to do the right things rather than the easy thing can be a challenge. Employees come from diverse backgrounds and have unique personalities which are brought to the fore in the course of interactions at the workplace. Creating and sustaining an organizational culture that facilitates successful implementation of the business strategy calls for the translation of the strategy into customer oriented actions that become the soul of the organization. The mindsets of the employees must shift in the process of creating a winning organizational culture. The employees shift from being the doers of the job to being the owners of the job. They take responsibility for their actions. They come up with solutions to challenges that arise. They create a positive working environment.
We have observed that the organizations that create and sustain successful organizational cultures follow these critical steps:
1. Leadership sets the tone
Every organization rises and falls on account of its leadership. If the leadership has a culture of doing the right thing, the employees will follow suit. If the leadership has a culture of doing the easy thing, the employees will do the easiest thing. The leaders of an organization must not only create a winning organizational culture but they also need to make room for the evolution of the organization’s culture. The current business operating environment is changing at the speed of light. New technologies are emerging. New regulations are implemented quite often. A successful organization embraces change quickly.
2. Prioritize and focus
An organization’s culture cannot be changed in a day but each day must be characterized by some changes. What aspects need to be improved? What aspects are unproductive and unnecessary? What timelines have been allocated to the improvement of organization’s culture? What comes first and what comes last? Answering these questions helps in the creation of priorities as the organization seeks to build a winning culture.
3. Structure
An organization relies on ritual and vision to go to the next level. Ritual (habits, values and behaviour) power the vision. Creating rituals that will sustain the organization calls for creation of suitable structures. The structures created perpetuate a winning culture and keep the organization focused on serving its customers.
What is your organization’s culture? Is it working for your organization?