Organisational culture is a complex thing. Not only are there multiple facets that can either positively transform or inhibit peak performance, but it is experienced differently throughout.
Not only can cultural perceptions differ by department, but they can also vary by role, site, team, personal demographics, and other factors – not to mention level. It will probably not surprise you that one fairly consistent finding is that the most senior managers in an organisation tend to have markedly more positive perceptions than everyone else.
While systems and processes can certainly have a strong influence on culture, the behaviour of colleagues, particularly leaders, has the most marked effect. Therefore, when you are attempting to analyse what cultural factors are enabling, or inhibiting, performance, you need to examine both.
Crucially, though, you need to start by focusing people’s attention on what really makes the difference in their experience. Far too many culture surveys focus almost exclusively on the basics – health and safety, frequency of performance appraisals, engagement benchmarks at their most simplistic level, and systems of working.
While these are undoubtedly important, they will not enable you to understand and appreciate the nuances of everyday experience that are truly making the difference between those employees who are enabled to perform, and those who are dissuaded or disengaged from contributing to success.
Not only is this information critical to everyday sustainable success, but it can make or break whether you are able to implement new systems and ways of working that you know will increase efficiency.
Most important of all, you need to gather the right data to persuade those people with the most influence over culture (the most senior managers) that there is a business case for change, and provide them with clear information about where and how it needs to happen. Opening their eyes to the reality of their organisation, and giving them the data they need to feel empowered to transform the culture to one of greater performance, is essential.
Let’s not forget the positives that exist too. Surfacing positive experiences, teams and departments, and harnessing these “positive deviants” for the benefit of everyone is an important part of enabling culture change.
Real World Group has been successfully working in cultural transformation at team, department and whole organisation level for the past 15 years.
to find out how we can help you build on your positives and address your development needs by getting in touch with how your people truly experience your organisation.