I’m excited to welcome another guest blogger! I’ve gotten to know Raksha on Twitter (like everybody worth knowing). She offered to write a guest post on organizational culture & I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Well, that’s not part of my job!
It’s 8:30 AM on a Monday morning and Alice pulls into the parking lot, grabs her things, and heads toward her work station. As she walks through to her desk, her long-term colleagues scream “good morning, I can’t wait to see Lucy’s dance performance tonight!”. She notices an informal meeting taking place near her work station. She heads over, high-five’s her boss (Mick) good morning while he hands her a chai latte and lets him know that she will join in just a minute.
Sounds like a pretty neat and energetic start to the morning, yeah?
What distinguishes this start to the prevailing “Monday morning blues” scenario? It’s what I like to call the little magic that everyone brings to work with them. Or in other words, organizational culture.
Organizational culture is like oxygen; no one can function without it, you can’t touch or feel it, and its importance was discovered after a LONG time!
Culture is the culmination of people, their interactions, and the outcomes of their teamwork. The type of culture developed at work is a combination of behaviors picked up by the employees at home, through their past experiences, and the culture of the community they grew up in. If Mick hadn’t set the right tone for the impromptu meeting/ “high-five” culture, that Monday morning would have played out very differently.
But wait a minute. Is setting the culture tone just Mick’s job? What about everyone else on that floor?
This just begs the million-dollar question – whose job is Organizational Culture?
You’ve seen the news; the rise of C-suite positions like Chief Culture Officer, Chief Happiness Officer, and Culture Consultant. So, this means that it’s one person’s full-time job, right?
Honestly, that just won’t work. Everyone, in their position, plays a vital yet different role in shaping the work culture.
Culture Specialists must work like ants in a colony. Culture is a huge and important concept (like a leaf to an ant) and Culture Specialists cannot leave their teammates behind to drive culture on their own (One ant cannot carry the entire leaf without help; duh!) – two-way collaborations must transpire.
- The C-suite team initiates, nudges the culture, leads by example, and curates the culture’s shape and form. The C-suite team sets the tone by behaving a certain way with and allowing the managers to think that it’s okay to “pass down” a certain type of behavior.
- The managers take the C-suite’s culture tone, add sugar, spice and everything nice (remember the Powerpuff girls?), mold it to fit their department needs, and regulate it at their team level. Exactly like Mick did with Alice and his team!
- The beings that live and breathe the culture day in and out, are the Alice’s of the organization. They take what their managers give them, throw in a little of their own personality, and are the REAL culture champions of the organization. They have the TRUE ability to construct or destruct the workplace culture.
You cannot complete the workplace culture discussion without addressing the layout of the workplace. We cannot dismiss the impact of open workspaces on the culture – if the employees are not “bought into” the idea of an open workspace and don’t take to it, one could argue that no other cultural enhancements would help enhance culture!
Small layout tweaks could significantly alter the culture of the company. Think about glass doors. Glass doors have both positive and negative cultural implications– sure, they make people more aware of their surroundings and are a tangible symbol of an “open and transparent culture” but it could also mean that employees see meeting attendance – providing unwanted transparency, unrest, and rumors!
So, the next time you think of what you do, think MVP of culture. It’s everyone’s job!
About the guest blogger
Raksha is a driven, curious, and global HR professional. Organization culture is her jam and training and development is her passion. She has payroll, leadership consultation, HR generalist, and training & development experience. Her HR mantra? Put the Human back in Human Resources!