‘It’s The Way We Do Things Here’ AKA “The Culture”

Let’s talk about the culture within a company. We know that individuals have their own styles; their own way of behaving and reacting in the workplace. Depending on how long you have worked for your current employer, you may or may not realize that companies also have their own styles and ways of doing things. Think about it – a newbie joins the clan and despite a reasonable induction, do they know everything? Could they blunder in and not do their bit for the tea towel rota, or buy the wrong biscuits, or as we are seeing in the news this week hug or not hug the wrong person? The “culture” is an informal combination of behaviours, values and attitudes that most of the team take for granted.

Cultural matters define the ‘personality’ of the company and it comes from a range of factors: the leadership style, the type of work the company does, historical behaviours, the goals of the company. It can impact the pace of work, the way that new people are welcomed (or not) and the risks the company will take. Some people fit straight in and love the place whilst others can feel like they have wandered into a foreign land where they just don’t belong.

There was an interesting example on a recent ‘Dragons Den’ when two young guys had come up with a concept that, in order to work, needed people to gamble. The guys were very credible and the concept was rock solid but most of the Dragons wouldn’t touch it – even though they would have made a lot of money – because of the association with causing hardship for people who may become addicted to gambling. That is what culture does, people will like it or loathe it.

If you want to think a bit more about your culture, here’s a couple of tangibles to consider:

What behaviour is rewarded? What does the leadership team encourage? Do you look for blame or solutions? Do you all thrive on change and fast pace or do you all love having loads of meeting full of fun and frivolity?

Have a go at defining what makes your company tick and then decide if it works as it is or would it benefit from a refresh?

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