It’s Time For Culture To Go Beyond Just Being a Buzzword

A Popular Buzzword

Most organizations know that a strong company culture is necessary for success. This is known because there are thousands of books and articles written about culture, all of them trying to define culture and explain why it matters. Prospective employees ask questions about the company culture during interviews and employers spend heaps of money trying to have influence a company culture they think everyone wants. However, culture rarely goes beyond being part of a recruiter’s proposition or a good talking point in meetings. According to Jamie Notter, co-founder and consultant at Human Workplaces, it is time for company culture to go beyond being a buzzword and become “a useable business tool.”

Culture Management

In order for a company to change its culture and drive success, “culture management” needs to become a part of their business strategy. Notter explains that an executive would be able to get information on financial management in an organization at nearly a moment’s notice. However, if a manager asked “what cultural priorities have you set this year and how have you moved on the needle on them?”, few would likely be able to respond at all. Companies that incorporate culture management will not only be able to answer that question, but they will have a more successful and productive organization overall.

Creating and Defining Your Culture

When creating and defining your culture, using phrases like “we are like family,” or descriptive words such as, “great” or “awesome” are not enough. It is also important to avoid just pointing out things your company is good at, that isn’t culture. The best actionable plan for culture is having “culture playbooks.” A playbook can be adapted, and sometimes a play may fail. But at the end of the day, it should contain information and experimental plays on a variety of aspects. As originally discussed on HR Drive, Notter suggests answering these questions to get you started:

  1. Rituals and artifacts. What are the things or aspects of your culture that people do that differentiate you? This could be your weekly all-hands meeting or how you celebrate birthdays or other special occasions.
  2. Stewardship. Who owns the culture? This is a trait that typically comes through mentorship.
  3. Talent/HR. Who works for you and how do you manage them?
  4. Process. What processes are important to our goals and how do we support them? A lot of HR work is based in processes, so HR has strong potential to make an impact here.
  5. Structure/design. Which type of structure/design best supports employees needs and our goals? For example, an open office is a structure that has a set of pluses and minuses that an employer would have to weigh before implementing it.
  6. Technology. What type of technology will support our culture? For example, idea and management software can jump-start an innovating culture.

For more information on culture management, creating culture playbooks, and defining company culture, click here!

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