The Misconceptions of Corporate Culture
I sat in a room sounded by a group of people who I’ve only met recently. I hadn’t put names to all the faces yet, but I knew them by their stories. People were sharing the heavy weight of their work experience to the group. Some were trembling from holding back tears of sadness, frustration and anger. Some buried their tear-stained faces in their hands. And some, like me, sat quietly in the background and took in the experience, not quite knowing what to say or do.
I didn’t understand. This was the corporate world. Logical. Strategic. So, why were we talking about our feelings?
Like my younger self, many people don’t understand what corporate culture is. And that’s okay. In fact, many CEOs and employees probably can’t quite define it either. But once you define culture and identify what it is you’re trying to discover, culture can become your key to a successful business. But in order to do so, you first need to rid yourself of some of these common culture misconceptions:
Emotion-based — Emotions are a small, yet impactful aspect of culture. This is because culture is created by people, and people’s emotions can really set the tone for an organization. Knowing how you feel about your work environment, as well as those of your colleagues, allows for communication to happen. Expressing your emotions is a way of sharing your experience so that you and your team can work together to address anything that needs to be maintained or changed. So although emotions play a vital part in culture, it is only a small portion in the grand scheme of things.
Can’t be Measured — Culture is only immeasurable if it’s
not defined. But once you define what culture means to you and your organization, you will be able to measure your culture by examining it from various perspectives. Our cultural analytics platform, illumyx, measures how work gets done, though the usage of employee surveys. The data gather tells you about your company culture and even categorized things into a start-stop-continue format so you can focus your energy on specific, targeted actions to positively impact your culture.
Solely HR’s Responsibility — Although HR is usually the one who takes on the responsibilities of monitoring culture, culture depends on every individual within the company. As mentioned before, culture is the result of people. In order to change culture, everyone in the organization must take part in the efforts to change or maintain culture. Everyone is affected by culture, and everyone has the ability to make an impact.
It Eliminates all Conflicts — Conflict is a natural part of culture and can never be completely eliminated. Rather than trying to get rid of all conflicts in the workplace, culture should create an environment where people are able to have open conversations about disagreements. This allows for growth and change.
Takes too Long to Implement — Changing culture is not an easy task, especially if it has been deeply rooted into the organization. However, this doesn’t mean it has to take a long time, either. The key to making this a quick and smooth transition is to have a strong grasp on your current culture—which can be done through the documentation of processes—and a clear vision where you would like to go. Doing so will help to reduce the transition period, and get you and your company back onto the road to success. The lack of preparation when implementing change is what causes delay.
Business is about people, and people run organizations. Thus, we have to look at the human aspects and address those variables, in order to create productive results. And to do this, we need to overcome these misconceptions about culture to effectively implement cultural change.
Stephen Utech is a
Principal at Utech Consulting