by David Pinto
Finding alignment between stated culture and actual culture can be one of the most challenging tasks for any organization, but it doesn’t have to be. One thing that can make alignment particularly difficult is when the stated culture arrives after the actual culture has evolved on its own. Company culture will always develop, with or without official guidance, and it takes a lot of effort to alter the direction of an existing culture when it’s been bolstered by years of tradition and multiple generations of hiring. Knowing this, thoughtful organizations will make culture a priority from the start rather than try to shoehorn it in down the road. Those who are late to the game should understand that it takes more than cobbling together some ideals and making posters; it takes understanding the existing culture and reinforcing the positive aspects of that, bit by bit, until there’s enough of a foothold to justify making any significant changes.
Another major issue occurs when initiatives to create a great company culture come from an image-first motivation, rather than a genuine desire to create an actual positive culture within the organization. Culture campaigns like this can actually have a negative effect when an otherwise-aligned employee population is rudely awakened to the hypocrisy between what the company says and what it actually does. Thus, it’s always best to approach culture realistically, openly acknowledging the true motivations and desired outcomes employees likely already understand and proposing any planned improvements internally long before stating them publicly.
If corporate culture is built up over time, employees are the bedrock beneath it. So, if there’s any question as to whether you have the trust and support of the people in your organization, you’re better off addressing that before you lay the first brick in any cultural initiative.
However you define your vision of building the best company culture for you, make sure your employees have opportunities to grow professionally and personally. Ask the right questions and listen to your employees’ unique perspectives; they probably already have a good idea of where your workplace culture currently is, and they can help guide your culture in a powerful way for years to come.