Organizational culture can be defined as the values and behaviors that contribute to the unique social and psychological environment of an organization. Some organizations are known for their compassionate culture – where employees and clients are treated like family, given every opportunity and tool needed to thrive, not only in the workplace but in the world at large. Other organizations, unfortunately, are associated with negative public images or unsupportive, and sometimes even oppressive, cultures. The question of how much impact organizational culture has and how it is assimilated is something many leaders ponder.
In the age of social media, an organization’s mission and culture are more visible and accessible daily. In a recent Fast Company article, Mark Zuckerberg asserted that the demand for businesses to focus and deliver upon values and the mission will continue to grow. That growth is fueled by a demand from both employees and consumers. Zuckerberg said, “When I started Facebook, there were a lot of questions around… is this a reasonable way to build a company? And then when more millennials started graduating from college and we went to recruit them, it became very clear that they wanted to work somewhere that wasn't just about building a business, but that was about doing something bigger in the world.” This line of thinking seems more and more relevant as millennials make up the largest percentage of the U.S. labor force, according to the Pew Research Center. It also sheds some light on what might be the most interesting aspect of organizational culture – it’s not shaped to benefit the organization, but rather the people that interact with that organization.
For an example of company culture gone awry, we need only to look to the skies. In response to a viral video of a passenger being forcibly removed from a plane, United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, penned a letter to members of United’s MileagePlus® program. “It happened because our corporate policies were placed ahead of our shared values,” wrote Munoz. “Our procedures got in the way of our employees doing what they know is right.” When process and policy overshadow culture and the people for whom that culture is designed, bad things can happen.
Synergy between company culture and company policy can be a difficult balance to strike. Making sure your employees have a clear understanding of both, and how to prioritize each, is essential to having a happy, healthy and constructive workforce.
How are you empowering your employees with the tools and knowledge they need to live your organizational culture?To learn more about what you can do, check out our short video: Seeing is Much More Than Believing. Click HERE.