Culture is the sum total of an organisation. Everything that is put into it is reflected in the culture.
Therefore, workplace practices, the way people are led and managed, types of communication, the company vision, the physical environment, working conditions, pay and benefits, training and development, the personalities of the people employed, will all impact – and more.
Quite a list.
How Can We Effect It?
So can the culture be affected for the positive if we are actively looking to change it? Well, culture flows from the top down, that is, those in the most senior positions within a company. As those within senior positions have the opportunity to effect all the things listed above, and more, they are in the best position to change the culture. Think of a company where the CEO is quite happy to cut corners in order to save money – this sends out a message to others that cutting corners is an acceptable practice and will then replicate it. In contrast, if a CEO holds himself to the highest levels of professionalism, and seeks to lead in an authentic manner, employees will mirror this behaviour because the culture is one of “professionalism”. If the employees know that they must act in a professional manner they will show such traits as turning up for work in a timely manner, completing work to the highest possible standards, acting in a courteous and professional manner to colleagues and associates… and the list goes on.
This illustrates the difference that a leader can make on a company organisation and the effect of having a negative versus a positive company culture.
Vision for the Future
The second biggest influence on culture is in consideration for the past versus the current vision for the future. To change the culture, a senior person or group of individuals must begin to change their own, and then others’ behaviours. If they come into a company where employees are unhappy and targets are not being met, they may decide that changing the culture is necessary in order for them to turn the company around and make it successful.
As those within senior positions have the opportunity to effect all the things listed above, and more, they are in the best position to change the culture
After this consider the smaller factors listed above, as these will all have an impact to a greater or lesser extent. Consider for instance, how much you want to democratise decision making within your organisation. Empowering employees to make decisions in the best interests of customers and stakeholders has been illustrated to be one of the most effective ways in raising levels of engagement and having a positive impact on company culture.
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