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What Is Organizational Culture?

Organizational Culture Organizational culture is the personality of any organization. It is made up of four competing forces all working simultaneously.

Types Of Organizational Culture:

  • Power Culture is an environment where subservience to the boss is normal.  Blind loyalty, direction without question is the standard.  The boss handles conflict and is high priest or priestess. In essence, leaders in extreme power cultures serve as paternal and maternal figures.  Loyalty and adherence to the leader's standards are rewarded, parking spots are reserved and the natural order seems to make sense.
  • Role Culture is "by the book culture" in which decisions are made according to a hard and fast set of SOPs or regulations allowing limited personal decision making. We get it right, but flexibility is not allowed.
  • Achievement Culture is the culture of people. In these cultures people are taking risks and using initiative inventively. These cultures are admired but difficult to achieve and can be very high stress without the proper amount of support.
  • Support Cultures are places where people care for each other and the customers. They support tradition, values, ethics and add value to society. While wonderful places to belong, they can also be so supportive that no one wants to ever rock the boat.

If you found yourself trying to pick one, it might help you to know that regardless of the work done, all four exist in every company. Balance is everything and the balance you choose creates the results you achieve.

Why Change your Organizational Culture?

There are several reasons why you might want to change your culture:

  • You may want to move your company from being reactive (customers come to us) to proactive (we go to the customer). This is the case in many businesses experiencing new competition or mature markets with declining curves. This is sometimes called creating a sales culture.
  • To be a better and more attractive employer. We all know that the best places to work get the best employees and culture plays a large role in determining work life and enriched environments.
  • You have merged with another organization and their way and your way of doing things is/was very different. We once helped a bank that was overwhelmed by merging with another bank and new president make the transition to one cohesive culture. This bank went on to become the best place to work in the State of Maine.
  • Culturally rich organizations make more money. We place this one last because we wouldn't want this to be the first thing you see or the first reason to change culture, but it is true. Organizations that have great cultures serve their customers and clients with a level of excellence that lesser organizations can't match. We know that organizations that take the best care of their own people also take the best care of customers.

What Does Priority Learning Do To Help You Change Your Culture?

Changing culture means moving toward the best of your culture. This includes visible behaviors and practices within the formal (procedures and regulations) and informal structures (internal communications, shortcuts, and the way things get done), reward systems, communication and decision-making processes, and inside and outside relationships. We examine rites and rituals that perpetuate the norms of group behavior associated with success. And finally, identify the individuals who personify organizational beliefs and values consistently. These heroes and role models are change catalysts and need to be recognized and emulated. Your values shape your approaches which in turn shape your behaviors. In other words, it's a big circle that is repeated over and over.

How Do We Do It?

We build, facilitate, develop and assist your Cultural Steering Team. Have we thrown you a curve ball with the term Cultural Steering Team? Picture a group of people you choose from your company to work with us at Priority Learning or on your premises. These are generally loyal, hard-working, serious, and professional people, but we welcome challengers and mavericks also.

Someone has to do the work and long ago we learned that if we all do the work together, we will own the process and its outcome. We became facilitators of the process using your people to build and implement it successfully. Processes don't work alone. Each member of the steering team has a constituency of company associates who serve as their advisory board for feedback. We send each steering member back to his/her constituency between sessions to seek advice and get buy-in.

We address organizational values, behaviors, systems, results and heroes with this steering team and build them into the culture your organization wants through a Cultural Charter System. Another curve ball...Charter System. The Steering Team writes a Cultural Charter which, when completed, becomes the newly envisioned culture laid out in a document. The Charter is drafted by the Steering Team and approved by the constituency. Then and only then can we start to help the organization build new systems that lead to changes in organizational behaviors. Changes that create the new culture for the organization.

Pretty simple? It is even easier than it sounds over the long term. The existing culture is the result of some very key people and valid experiences. Engaging in cultural transformation represents change in its rawest form for those individuals and challenges their validations in the existing culture.

What Priority Learning Does In The Organizational Design/Change Process...

Steps in the Cultural Process

1. Choose the Steering Team

Administer the cultural diagnostic to the entire organization, which includes:

  • demographic breakouts
  • scoring
  • preparation

2. Initial Steering Team meeting

Analyze of results by:

  • Review the findings
  • Identify areas of opportunity
  • Create a comprehensive cultural report for management and the steering team

3. Report out the results of the cultural diagnostic to:

  • The Management Group
  • Unveil the plan for building culture

4. Preparation of the Steering Team product:

  • Description of the work and vision
  • Building a strong steering unit
  • Role clarification
  • Constituency and communication
  • Scheduling

5. Cultural Component Identification:

  • Elements of current culture
  • External forces
  • Internal forces
  • Constituency check

6. Cultural Charter Development:

  • Identify cultural components
  • Research areas of opportunity
  • Cultural component drafts
  • Cultural charter statements

7. New Cultural Infrastructure Development:

  • Cultural charter statements
  • Component strategies
  • Implementation strategy
  • Measures and matrixes
  • Contingency planning
  • Steering role in implementation
  • Systems of perpetuation

organizational culture

The Time Factor

Cultural change takes time. When done correctly, it has minimal negative impact on workflow and productivity. All caution is and needs to be given to moving the process along without disrupting the vital operations of the organization.

At the same time, it is impossible for the process to be completely invisible. People will know "something is going on" and will be naturally curious. We harness this natural curiosity to create strong communication and feedback systems, fostering participation through the Steering Team process. Members of the Steering Team also have important jobs to do within your organization, so we try to schedule meetings that accommodate their primary responsibilities. The schedule we create together impacts the speed of charter and strategy development.

In our experience, organizations that embark on cultural work seek quality, not the "quickest solutions". Although this may sound complicated, please remember that deep change takes time and cannot be rushed. We always say that it's a marathon and not a sprint. It is important that organizations own what they create and throughout the process, we ask each Steering Team member to become more and more involved in the design and implementation of the emerging culture.

Communication builds trust and trust builds amazing cultures. We will work hard to earn your trust and keep communication flowing. Together, we will build an amazing culture of which we can all be proud.

  • The beginning phase of the cultural change initiative - from data gathering to implementation - typically, takes one year.
  • For the emerging culture to become ingrained and a "way of life" it can take as little as 24 months or as long as 60 months, depending on the size of your organization

Whatever the duration, the cultural change lasts as long as the charter is used and remains alive as a working document for change.

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Poll Question

The word "Empowerment" has been, in our experience, a little tough to implement in some organizations. Which of the following best describes “Empowerment” at your organization…

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