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What does ‘Organisational Culture’ mean?

Culture is created through consistent and authentic behaviours. You can watch company culture in action when you see how a CEO responds to a crisis, how a team adapts to new customer demands, or how a manager corrects an employee who makes a mistake.
What does ‘Organisational Culture’ mean?
What is organisational culture ?
Organisational culture is the collection of values, expectations, and practices that guide and inform the actions of all team members. Think of it as the collection of traits that make your company what it is. A great culture exemplifies positive traits that lead to improved performance, while a dysfunctional company culture brings out qualities that can hinder even the most successful organisations.
The importance of culture to your company
Organisational culture affects all aspects of your business, from punctuality and tone to contract terms and employee benefits. When workplace culture aligns with your employees, they’re more likely to feel more comfortable, supported, and valued. Companies that prioritize culture can also weather difficult times and changes in the business environment and come out stronger.

Culture is a key advantage when it comes to attracting talent and outperforming the competition. Lots of your workers consider a company’s culture before applying, and almost half of employees would leave their current job for a lower-paying opportunity at an organisation with a better culture. The culture of an organisation is therefore one of the top indicators of employee satisfaction and one of the main reasons that most of employees stay in their job.
Qualities of a great organisational culture
Every organisation’s culture is different, and it’s important to retain what makes your company unique. However, the cultures of high-performing organisations consistently reflect certain qualities that you should seek to cultivate:
 
  • Alignment comes when the company’s objectives and its employees’ motivations are all pulling in the same direction. Exceptional organisations work to build continuous alignment to their vision, purpose, and goals.
  • Appreciation can take many forms: a public congratulation, a gratitude, or a promotion. A culture of appreciation is one in which all team members frequently provide recognition and thanks for the contributions of others.
  • Trust is very important to an organisation. With a culture of trust, team members can express themselves and rely on others to have their back when they try something new.
  • Performance is key, as great companies create a culture that means business. In these companies, talented employees motivate each other to excel, and, as shown above, greater profitability and productivity are the results.
  • Resilience is a key quality in highly dynamic environments where change is continuous. A resilient culture will teach leaders to watch for and respond to change with ease.
  • Teamwork encompasses collaboration, communication, and respect between team members. Employees will get more done and feel happier when everyone on the team supports each other.
  • Integrity, like trust, is vital to all teams when they rely on each other to make decisions, interpret results, and form partnerships. Honesty and transparency are critical components of this aspect of culture.
  • Innovation leads organisations to get the most out of available technologies, resources, and markets. An innovative culture means that you apply creative thinking to all aspects of your business, even your own cultural initiatives.
  • Psychological safety provides the support employees need to take risks and provide honest feedback. Psychological safety starts at the team level, not the individual level, so managers need to take the lead in creating a safe environment where everyone feels comfortable contributing.
7 steps to building a high-performing organisational culture

Creating a great organisational culture requires developing and executing a plan with clear objectives that you can work towards and measure. The 7 steps below should serve as a roadmap for building a culture of continuity that will deliver long-term benefits across your company.

1. Excel in recognition
Recognizing the contributions of all team members has a far-reaching, positive effect on organisational culture. When everyone on the team recognizes the accomplishments of others, individuals start to see how they’re part of a whole. Even the most jaded employees want to know their work matters, and they notice when they aren’t appreciated. Experts agree that when an organisation makes appreciating employees’ part of its culture, important metrics like employee engagement, retention, and productivity improve.

Making recognition part of your culture means it must be a regular occurrence, not something that is only reserved for major milestones or work anniversaries. Encourage team members to practice frequent social recognition in addition to monetary recognition. Providing social recognition on a consistent basis has a remarkable business impact: companies that invest in social recognition are four times more likely to increase stock prices, twice more likely to improve NPS scores, and twice more likely to improve individual performances.

To foster other cultural traits, recognition should also be clearly tied to company values and specific actions. After all, 92 percent of employees agree when they’re recognized for a specific action, they’re more likely to take that action again in the future. (Achievers Report, 2021)

Finally, leadership needs to take centre stage in your recognition efforts, as they’re the cultural trendsetters for your entire company. Incorporate a recognition talk track into your leadership training and share top tips with managers on how to recognise others and why it matters.
 
2. Enable employee voice
Creating a culture that values feedback and encourages employee voice is essential, as failing to do so can lead to lost revenue and demotivated employees.

First, you need to start collecting feedback of your employees to express what they’re feeling in the moment. Then analyze the results to see what’s working and what isn’t in your organisation, and act on those findings while they’re still relevant. Not only does this strengthen your culture, but it also leads to benefits like higher employee fulfillment and greater profitability.

In addition to gathering feedback, make sure you’re paying attention to more subtle expressions of feedback that can reveal cultural deficiencies. Managers should treat all the moments of contact they have with their employees as opportunities to gather and respond to feedback and act as a trusted coach.

3. Make your leaders culture advocates
Your company’s success in building a strong workplace culture rests in the hands of team leaders and managers. For example, if your workplace culture prioritizes certain values and your leadership team doesn’t exemplify them — or even displays behaviours that go against them — it undermines the effort. Team members will recognize the dissonance between stated values and lived behaviours. They may even start to emulate negative behaviours because they believe those behaviours have been rewarded by management.

As a manager you can help build the culture you need by prioritizing it in every aspect of their work lives. They need to openly and transparently discuss the organisation’s culture and values, and they should also be prepared to incorporate feedback from employees into their cultural advocacy efforts. Managers need their employees’ perspective on culture. When employees see you living your culture, they’ll follow suit.
4. Live by your company values
Your company’s values are the foundation of its culture. You can easily start with creating a mission statement but living by company values means weaving them into every aspect of your business. This includes support terms, HR policies, benefits programs, and even out-of-office initiatives like volunteering. Your employees, partners, and customers will recognize it and appreciate that your organisation puts its values into practice every day.

5. Form connections between team members
Building a good workplace culture requires strong connections between team members, but with increasingly remote and terse communication, creating those bonds can be challenging. Encouraging collaboration and engaging in team building activities — even when working remote — are two effective ways to bring your team together and promote communication.
Look for and encourage shared personal interests between team members as well, especially among those from different generations that might otherwise have a difficult time relating to each other. This can create new pathways for understanding and empathy that are vital to improving communication, creativity, and even conflict resolution.
6. Focus on learning and development
A culture of learning has a significant business impact. Great workplace cultures are formed by employees who are continually learning and companies that invest in staff development. Training initiatives, coaching, and providing employees with new responsibilities are all great ways to show your team that you’re invested in their success.

7. Personalize the employee experience
Nowadays consumers become more modern. This also counts for your employees. Your employees expect personalized experiences, so focus on ways to help each team member identify with your culture. Take what you learn and tailor your actions to personalize the employee experience for your team. Once you start treating your employees with the same care you treat your customers, a culture that motivates everyone at your organisation is sure to follow.
 

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