Posted: 5/11/2015 6:15:56 PM by
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Who is accountable for the culture in your business?
Whenever more than one person is involved in something a culture will be established. Often that culture develops without even the conscious awareness of the people involved.
Imagine you are at a business dinner, where your manager will be the guest speaker. You have enjoyed a wonderful dinner and some drinks, and your manager will shortly make his speech. You are sitting right at the front of the room, directly in front of the rostrum. Is it acceptable to get up and go to the toilet? When is it acceptable? At what point does it become unacceptable?
For most people, their instinct in that situation is first to seek to understand the rules, but where are those rules written? They are vague, but so strong that for most people they will over-ride even the most basic physical need.
From being children we learn to fit in to groups by adapting our behaviour from those we perceive as having authority. Those with such authority in the groups might be our parents, a sibling, a classmate, or a teacher. We understand the rules for behaving and interacting based on how we see those with authority act and interact, and we learn to understand and follow the ‘established way of doing things’ in each group.
As we mature we continually enhance and adapt the nuances of our behaviour. At first we learn to fit in with our family members, then we learn to adapt to fit in with our classmates and teachers, and then we adapt further to fit in to our workplace.
At The H Factor, we define business culture as ‘the way things are done around here’. It is the established way of doing things; the often-unwritten rules and protocols that determine why, what, how, when – and especially if – things get done by (and within) a group, team, business, or organisation.
Some believe that the business culture belongs to everyone. Sure, it’s nice to think that everyone comes to work and participates in an amazing culture of fun, productivity, and success. It’s nice to think that people just get along, collaborate effectively, and look out for each other. It’s especially nice to think that people would just make that happen - but they don’t.
Without clarity, people are left to guess what the rules are and interpret for themselves, which behaviours are acceptable, and which are not. That is all they can do.
In any organisation, people act and interact based on what they believe is allowed or not allowed. With greater clarity there will become greater consistency in the group behaviour, and thus the ‘way things are done around here’ will be more firmly established.
Who is accountable for giving that clarity?
We have observed and experienced that in the most effective teams, the established way of doing things is clear, and every person seems to fit in, even despite varying personalities, experience levels, and backgrounds. These teams consistently outperform others because their leaders have consciously created the rules and protocols, despite being unwritten, and they have given clarity of how people can act and interact within them. Everyone has awareness of ‘the way things are done around here’.
Likewise, in the most successful businesses, the brand of the business is delivered consistently and faithfully by a deliberate culture. The culture itself is a valuable business asset, having been consciously created through effective leadership.
The leaders take ownership of the culture by accepting accountability for the outcomes it delivers. They clearly communicate:
· Why the team exists at all and why it matters;
· The values they expect to be followed unconditionally;
· Explicitly and implicitly the permission to act or stop;
· The lines of authority, responsibility, and autonomy;
· The desired outcome;
· How they serve their team members;
· The level of risk they accept; and
· The time frames for achieving outcomes.
In doing so they create the foundation for the established ways of doing things. They set the standards for actions and interactions, and they create clarity of how to fit in to their team. The leaders own the culture, and everyone is free to safely participate.