The culture of your organisation is core to the delivery of your purpose and achieving your vision. Without definition, measurement and management of your culture you are in danger of creating barriers to performance or limiting optimum performance.

What is culture, how do we measure it and what do we do to develop it to achieve our goals?

We frequently hear leaders talk about needing to change the culture but rarely do leaders know exactly what the current culture is and exactly what the new culture should be and therefore they have no real idea as to how to change it. Even so many organisations throw money and time at initiatives intended to change the culture and when all is said and done they do not know which will and which wont, which have and which have not.

So what is organisational culture? How do you know what kind of culture you have? And, what can you do if your organisation’s culture is a barrier to achieving much needed business results?

We describe organisation culture as the behavioural norms all members of the organisation understand are expected of them if they are to fit in and succeed within their organisation.

We use an Organisational Culture Inventory (OCI) to provide a point in time picture of the culture of your organisation in terms of 12 specific types of behavioural norms. The 12 behavioural norms are organised into 3 clusters of behaviour: Constructive, Passive/Defensive and Aggressive/Defensive. The responses participants give to the inventory questions enable us to generate a profile of the shared behavioural expectations that operate within your organisation. We can also determine the intensity of these expectations. In addition we can profile your ideal operating culture against the same 12 behavioural norms enabling us to identify the cultural gap. The overall approach we take enables us to; assess outcomes associated with your culture and provide insight into the possible need for cultural change. We are also able to assess the organisation’s readiness for moving the current culture toward the ideal.

The operating culture is often viewed as a direct function of the assumptions and values shared by members of the organisation, however research by Human Synergistics International (The company we partner with to provide you with the culture survey tools) suggest a more complex picture of how culture really works. The research proposes a frequent disconnect between underlying assumptions, purpose, vision and espoused values on the one hand, and behavioural norms and expectations on the other. This disconnect is due to the direct influence of structures, systems, technology, and skills/qualities (particularly those of leadership roles), which do not necessarily reflect underlying assumptions and espoused values on the operating culture of the organisation. It is this disconnect which needs addressing to achieve the ideal culture and subsequent related performance outcomes.

It is all too common to experience the contradiction of strong defensive behavioural norms operating in organisations with purpose and vision statements emphasising high quality service, innovation and collaboration. The fact is that all too often the behavioural norms (the culture), which emerge are determined by the day -to-day realities employees are faced with and not by the intent of leadership.

The behavioural norms that emerge in organisations are the result of an organisation’s members’ collective learning regarding what it takes to survive or thrive around here. When new statements of purpose and vision and values are communicated members will be cynical until they can see that what leaders say they want is what they really want. Members determine this when they see structures, systems, technologies and skills/qualities consistently aligned to and reinforcing the purpose, vision and values.

Although organisational outcomes are influenced by many factors, extensive research indicates strong norms for constructive behaviours (as described in the Organisational Culture Inventory) lead to desirable outcomes such as individual motivation and performance, job satisfaction, teamwork, quality of working relations, quality of customer experience, innovation and productivity. A strong constructive culture will also minimise undesirable outcomes prevalent in today’s business cultures such as social loafing and stress.

In short, culture has a tangible impact on business outcomes and this can be measured just like any other aspect of business performance. You cannot afford to risk investing in programmes of organisational change and growth without understanding the impact of your culture and addressing any gap between what is required versus your current reality. Make 2016 the year in which you do this and you will be a leader who is truly making a difference (MAD)!

We can work together to envision and communicate the unique culture that will deliver the results you want.

We will define in detail the values and behaviours that will optimise performance. Once we know what good looks like we can assess the gap versus current reality and design the appropriate mechanics to encourage and enable the right behaviours. We will also work with your leadership teams to enable them to identify the differences they need to make to ensure they are leading authentically, according to the stated organisational values.

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