Depending on where you’re standing, your answer to the question of how important is organizational culture will be different. If you’re in a rush to find a job and need money, salary is probably going to be in the pique of your interest – at first. If, on the other hand, I ask you the same question after you’ve been hired or after you’ve spent some time in a company, I guarantee you’d give me a different answer. A day has 24 hours. If you’re lucky, you’ll have an 8hr sleep. Another 8hrs will be spent at your job and the remaining 8 with your family&friends. So, your day is divided accordingly, and I honestly don’t think anyone would choose to spend their precious time with someone and somewhere where they don’t feel right. You’ll see the same pattern in your love life. When you first meet someone, you won’t go any deeper than their looks and some basic stuff. These may attract you to start dating someone, but after some time, the only thing you’ll truly care about is their personality. Likewise, organizational culture is a company’s personality. It’s a mixture of values, beliefs, attitudes, patterns, behaviors all shared by a group of employees and driven by leadership. This is why your relationship with the company you work for is going to depend on its organizational culture.

It’s not me, it’s you!

There are all kinds of people so there are no strict relationship rules. People will leave both good and bad bosses at almost comparable rates (According to Harvard Business review article). The only difference is the feeling you’ll leave with. “Supportive managers empower employees to take on challenging assignments with greater responsibilities, which sets employees up to be strong external job candidates.” This is similar to what we’ve talked about in our previous article – your investment will be someone else’s and vice versa. The only difference is that people who leave with positive experience are not demonstrating a problematic culture. Those who leave feeling disappointed – are.

I’m not mad I’m just disappointed

1. …because I don’t know where this is going

This is happening when people can’t see how their role fits in the bigger picture. Or they can’t even see the company’s bigger picture at all. Ultimately this means the company isn’t really trying to help employees reach their goals. On the other hand, there are companies that set up unrealistic goals and expectations. Here, employees can’t identify, be as productive as expected, and don’t see themselves truly growing.

2. …because I’m not me when I’m with you

Employees ill-perform and quit when they are being pressured to do things that don’t align with their values. Declining their creative freedom, operating with passive aggression, gossiping, and doing all the things people of quality generally don’t like will lead to undesired company culture.

3. …I feel like I’m alone in this relationship

You can be the most motivated and hard-working person in your team but you can’t do it all on your own. Even if you manage to, you’ll feel worn-out after some time which will, in the end, make you lose productivity or quit. It takes their collective efforts to truly achieve the company’s mission. 

4. …because you expect me to be perfect

No one is perfect and mistakes happen to everyone. If a company leadership thinks that making a big deal each time someone makes a mistake will make people be more productive – they got it all wrong.

5. … you waste my time

Most employees quit because they can’t stand the waste. I did the same thing once. I couldn’t stand the waste of energy, opportunities, resources, time. This happens when leadership thinks they know everything better than anyone else. What really happens is that a lot of projects fail because good ideas were dismissed. You NEED to work together.

Maybe WE can work things out?

Leaders and Executives, at most companies, don’t pay attention to culture. Only results matter. These two, however, can’t be dissociated. Culture matters indeed. It drives everything that happens in your organization for better or worse. Moreover, research shows that bad organizational culture will lead to bad results. See, connected. If, on the other hand, leaders took the first step in the process and realized they need to work on their organizational culture to improve results – good for them! Next step is to understand who’s job is it to make that change happen. An article I came across on LinkedIn inspired me to address this topic myself. A Head of HR explained her experience with a company’s CFO who expected she would be the one to change their culture. Head of Human Resources sounds like someone who would be successful doing so, but not alone. Why?

The part leaders should play

Truly changing organizational culture means changing your company’s lifestyle. As we said, culture will shape the way people make decisions, how they perform, how they interact with teammates, clients, customers. The only way you can make a culture powerful is when you, as a leader, see it as your responsibility and mission. HR should be a meaningful resource to help you achieve it, but it has to be a collaborative project.

Having a clear vision of what do you want to achieve and how to achieve it is essential. You can’t make a progress moving from culture1 to culture2 if you don’t see the core issue in culture1. HR can be helpful in mapping the difference between the existing and desired culture. “What do we look like now, what are our values, flaws, behaviors, processes, policies?” – HR will help answer this question, but you as a leader will have to be the one to ask it. You set the tone of your company – the standard behavior across the organization will depend on how leaders treat others.

The HR’s role here is to define the desired culture, the one you’re aiming to create. You will know you’re on the right track if you are able to define the 3 things that you want to describe your company with. Moreover, the leading team’s answers need to be in agreement (at least 80%), in order to even begin working on the desired change.

The part HR should play

HR shouldn’t assume that all leaders have experience in a culture change. Even for the seniors, this can be a completely new and unfamiliar activity. It is your job to guide their way and provide them with the necessary tools. HR can provide two extremely important functions regarding cultural change. Their fingers are all over the important information about employee perceptions and feelings, compensations, benefits, as well as information about leaders (good and bad ones). Moreover, HR monitors people’s contributions and performance and their insight is extremely important in the whole culture change process. This data should be delivered to leaders regularly, in a variety of ways, until they understand it and start changing ineffective elements of the existing organizational culture.

Secondly, HR expertise in human systems which means that they can make an assessment of how well leaders model desired values and behaviors. Furthermore, they have coaching knowledge that will help leaders embrace the values they define in daily interactions. It is their role to teach you the same skills and keep you informed about your culture revolution progress.