What is culture? Culture is casually defined as the beliefs, customs, behaviors, etc., of a particular society, group, place, or time. So, just like each society has its own culture, each Company has its own culture as well. In each company a culture exists – whether or not it is consciously created. It is created by the way management treats the employees, by the way employees treat each other, and by the way the organization treats its customers. It is created by the behaviors and attitudes that are rewarded and those that are penalized. So, if you want to instill a particular culture within your organization, you need to consciously create it, and the sooner you do so, the better. If you are so fortunate to have come into a blank slate, it is much easier to create a culture from scratch rather than to try and change what already exists.
To a large degree, this is the fortunate position we have found ourselves in. We are hiring a large group of people over a short period of time and have the opportunity to instill our culture from the ground up, at least in the corporate office. To quote a popular and excellent author, Simon Sinek, we started with WHY. Why does our company exist? There are many versions of this; some call it a vision or mission statement, which some use interchangeably although they are different. Others call it Go-To statement, but it is, basically, all driving toward the same outcome. How do we all align toward a common goal at the highest level. Once the common purpose is hammered out and disseminated throughout the organization, which is an article in and of itself, it becomes time to figure out how you will put that purpose in place. This is a good time to involve the rest of the organization, especially if you are working toward a more collaborative culture. Create cross functional focus groups, brainstorm ideas on whiteboards or through interactive AV technology. Work with them until they feel right, like they echo the essence of what you are trying to achieve. There may be as few as five or as many as a dozen. From there the real work starts because now each organization has to grapple with what they need to do in order to bring this cultural initiative to light. These will become the performance metrics used to drive not only your culture, but the performance of your organization.
As a side note, culture can and should be drive by initiatives, performance metrics, goals and other measures, but culture also needs to be driven by the less tangible, kindness, compassion and empathy. Cultures are driven by the words used and the deeds carried out every day. They are driven by doing what is right for your employees as human beings. By bringing in flowers on Mother’s Day, by handing out Good Gotcha’s, by taking the time to listen and to genuinely care.
Next time we’ll talk more about tying Performance Management in an organization to the cultural initiatives and then about metrics and measurements tied to the performance management core competencies and goals.