Over the last several years we’ve seen the proliferation of the idea of “culture” within a business. As a part of this, companies have focused on creating a culture that is desirable to attract and retain talent. Have you ever wondered if the culture portrayed through social media and other channels reflects reality? Is the culture in your company really what you think it is? Let’s talk about that.
Culture: the arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.
In simpler terms, culture is the manner in which a group of people does things. It’s the way of life. Culture is also unique to each group. Anyone that has worked for multiple companies in their career will understand that each company has a different way of doing things. While similarities are inevitable, cultures between companies undoubtedly vary. For a further understanding of this concept, we look to a quote oft attributed to Aristotle:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
So what is culture? Simple. Culture is what we repeatedly do, not what we frequently say. If you always say you are a family-friendly company, but you require extended hours, weekend work every week, and have no flexibility with family schedules; you do not have a culture of being family-friendly. Your repeated actions are what determine what your culture is.
With this understanding of culture, you can now take a step outside the daily grind to analyze the repeated behaviors of your company. If there is a specific environment that you are trying to create, there should be artifacts, or evidence of behaviors, that support this culture. If you can’t find them, it is your responsibility as a leader to start a cultural shift. While not easy, this shift can be down by giving your employees experiences that shape their beliefs to aligns with the vision for the company. When employees understand the vision and buy-in, behaviors align, and the desired culture is a result.
What are some artifacts of culture that you see in your company? What do they tell you about the cultural identity of your business? Think of traditions, events at specific cadences, and repeated daily behaviors. I’d love to engage with you about these artifacts in the comments.