Like any major change initiative, you need authentic senior-leadership
sponsorship and a purposeful plan. Begin with the end
in mind and consider what you’re actually aiming for and why it
matters. Building the “what” and “why” has got to come before the
“how” part of any change initiative and when it comes to culture,
you’ve got to start with what the organization is trying to accom-plish
and what it stands for. Usually, this is expressed through the
company’s mission, strategy and values.
I submit that there are really three simple reasons to consider
changing your culture: Something isn’t right in the behaviours of
leaders or employees, performance is not as strong as it needs to be
or you are about to undergo a significant change (inside the com-pany
or in the marketplace). How do you get ahead of the curve?
Start with an examination of your culture and work climate.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN
CULTURE AND WORK CLIMATE?
In the fields of organizational behaviour or industrial/organi-zational
psychology, there are distinctions between culture and
climate in that culture is shared by all or most members of a group,
whereas climate is seen as the patterns of behaviour, attitudes
and feelings that portray work-life in a particular organization.
Volumes of behavioural science research on the interplay between
the two topics exists.
Culture. Google it. I dare you. You’ll get about 6.1 billion results
in about half a second. You could be absolutely consumed by the
anthropological origins, kitschy videos, scholarly articles, images
and an abundance of professional consulting offers to help you
change your workplace culture. It’s actually quite overwhelming.
Asking people to agree on a definition of workplace culture is a bit
like asking, “What is the best flavour of ice cream?” It will result in
some common themes, but not necessarily a unified belief.
That said, let me share my working definition of workplace cul-ture.
Workplace culture is a system of values, beliefs, behaviours
and ceremonies that shape how real work gets done in an organi-zation.
It is the sum of what is co-created and experienced between
leaders, employees and customers.
A January 2018 HBR article, “The Culture Factor,” defines cul-ture
“Culture is the tacit social order of an organization: It shapes
attitudes and behaviours in wide-ranging and durable ways.
Cultural norms define what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted,
or rejected within a group. When properly aligned with per-sonal
values, drives, and needs, culture can unleash tremendous
amounts of energy toward a shared purpose and foster an organi-zation’s
capacity to thrive.”
Fairly consistent in most of the definitions of culture, we see an
emphasis on values as an essential underpinning of culture. Values
instruct people what to do in a crisis or in times of opportunity.
Where were the corporate values before public scandal struck in the
Weinstein Company, VW’s “diesel-gate,” Google’s developer walk-out
or the RCMP’s sexual harassment disgrace? Values really matter!
Work climate is the atmosphere of what it feels like to work in
a group or on a team. It can be highly variable from one team to
another, even under the same overarching organizational culture.
To amplify the distinctions, let’s take two departments, side by
side, in one organization as an illustrative example. The dominant
An audit of your company’s
current climate can
determine culture gaps rawpixel / 123RF
12 ❚ CONFERENCE ISSUE 2019 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL