Shaping Organizational Culture starts with defining culture. The simplest definition of culture is “the way we do things around here.” A complete definition is
Organizational culture is the combination of values, behaviors, and attitudes that influence how decisions are made, customers are treated, and communication happens between colleagues in the workplace.
Culture is unique to an organization. No two cultures are exactly the same because the individuals who make up an organization are not completely alike. Yes, there are themes of culture that can be identified, and some organizations may want to shape their culture based on a company they admire. (The reverse is also true: we don’t want to be like Company X, so we’re going to do the opposite of what they do.”
Most of us live our day-to-day work lives without giving conscious thought to culture, but it’s there nonetheless. It happens every time someone is hired; each time a sales call is made, and whenever managers sit down to make a decision about how to prioritize work.
The fact is, because we don’t consider culture and reflect on how to shape it into the form we want it to be, our company culture’s often are inconsistent and contradictory. When we fail to drive the culture, the culture drives us, and sometimes it drives us off a cliff!
Creating a mission statement and identifying guiding principles & values is a “no brainer” for new businesses, and may be evaluated from time to time as the business grows and evolves. Culture needs to be just as much a part of the business planning as the vision statement is.