Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Importance of Culture

Each work week, we each of us spend at least one-third of the weeks hours at our offices, for those of us that do not work remotely.  What we tend to do is forge strong relationships with our co-workers and get to know each of them personally, not just professionally.

In each of our roles, there are some team members that are innovators, motivators, individual contributors, and leaders.  The glue that bonds all of these people together and keeps them focused and wanting to return each day is not the paycheck (although that does help).  The bonding agent is the culture of the workplace.

As a leader, it is important to understand the cultural aspects of what makes a success team within an organization.  In call centers I have worked in, I have seen where those that can hit high numbers, were not always the best fit for other teams.  I am believer that if you can create a culture, and hire team members that embody the cultural aspects of the environment, the results will take care of themselves. 

As I have talked about in other posts, it is like a peer of mine reminded me about the movie Finding Nemo.  If you remember towards the end of the movie, when the fish begin swimming in the same direction, they are finally freed from the net.  Not one fish individually was able to become freed on their own, however, all the fish working together were able to become freed.  Having a common goal makes teams very effective.  Are you applying the Nemo Principle to your hiring practices?  Are you hiring those individuals that are team goal focused?  Are your front line leaders bought into this concept?  Are you compensating and rewarding your cultural values?

Developing the culture is a daily challenge for all leaders and one that will require constant work.  Once you get it where you think it needs to be, you will need to make adjustments, but keep your cultural beliefs at the core of your decisions.  In buying into this concept, your results will take care of themselves.  Attrition will be lower, as team members will not only hear that their perspectives matter, but they will see it in action.

Here is the first step...  Ask your teams what they like and dislike about their work environment.  Then ask them what they value in the ultimate work environment.  When you determine why they continue to spend one third of their week with you and their co-workers, you will begin having a stronger culture, and a stronger, more focused team.

Have a great week!!!


  1. A group or company culture is something that can make or break an organization. The problems with a poor culture, if not attended to quickly, can cause a project or company to fail. Asking your employees their opinion certainly is a great first step if they feel comfortable enough in sharing there true thoughts. If they do then the culture is usually in pretty decent shape and can be molded and mended. If not, then the uphill battle to change or improve the culture can be very daunting.

  2. Stupid me, I was hoping people like Jack Welch would enable me to find out what is really going on in business. Now that I have found this site I will never look back.

  3. I have been lucky to have worked in many places where creating a good culture was high on the priority list. I was loyal and stayed in one case for 12 years!
    I have also worked in one small organisation where the boss thought his idea's where what everyone wanted - he did allow me to put on Friday pizza and he often passed around a bottle of red at the end of the day, but these are the only parts of the work week I looked forward to. I pretty much hated it and couldn't wait to leave....didn't take too long before I did.

  4. Having a successful team requires that you understand and practice the culture of that team! Thanks Mark

  5. I worked for many years in a large privately owned mortgage company. The leaders in the company rarely cared enough to ask questions of employees, nor did they take time to think about how they could make improvements.
    The result? An average of 30% turnover annually.

    I wonder how a new employee can learn about the culture before accepting a job...