Advising senior leaders on the topic of organizational culture for the last fifteen plus years has provided me with a multitude of opportunities to examine the ways in which groups of people organize themselves to accomplish their work and to achieve their mission. There are a wide variety of methods that I use when helping clients to understand the cultures of their organizations. One of these methods is engaging members of a client organization in order to listen to and attempt to make meaning of the stories that are told.
Stories have served a critical purpose in organizing groups of people for thousands of years. Stories are engaging ways to educate members of a group about what is valued by the group. What the group expects from its members. What gets rewarded and what gets people punished. Stories spark different areas of our brains than other forms of communication and this is why they have, and continue to be, utilized to share important ideas amongst and across groups of people.
Stories, due to their unique contextual factors, tend to reinforce the belief that each is a special, one-of-a-kind thing. Stories are not the only organizational phenomenon that foster the belief that organizations and their cultures are unique and special snowflakes but, in reality, organizational cultures and the stories that are shared within them share many commonalities in terms of structure, delivery, and ultimate purpose. This is what researchers Martin, Feldman, Hatch, & Sitkin refer to as the uniqueness paradox.
If “culture eats strategy for breakfast”, as has been said, then it’s time to tune in to how to create a winning company culture. What does it look like? How do you create it? How can you transform your team and company? gothamCulture’s Chris Cancialosi talks to Wanda Wallace on “Out of the Comfort Zone” podcast this Friday at 2 pm ET/11 am PT.
Many a time I have been asked how a business knows they need to revisit their culture and just as many that I have been told by a CEO that they have a great culture whilst they go on to tell me the signs are that they don’t.
So, what exactly should you be looking for? Here’s my list of the top 11 signs that might be telling you it’s time for a culture change.
The numbers tell a fading story
For whatever reason, if your sales are on a downward trajectory its a sure sign there’s a problem. Whether it is the actual product or the way you are working the underlying truth is that the organization is either failing to leverage intelligence and adapt or is simply not agile enough to keep up with market trends.
Your people aren’t happy
Happiness is an integral part of profitability. If your employees are not happy with you then as well as the impact on your HR budget from high turnover of staff and sickness they will also care less and its that loss of attention to detail and will to succeed that could cost you most dearly. Introducing an innovation culture that everyone has a stake in sends out a strong message about the value of employees. Read More…
There I was, sitting in the office of a senior executive who was struggling to come to terms with the reality that their organizational change effort, though having somewhat significant success initially, was not sustaining. People were quickly slipping back to old behaviors and engagement measures were sliding back to where they were when the change process started.
As I learned more about the “culture” change efforts that this organization had engaged in over the last year and a half, it became clear to me where it went sideways. This leader is not alone in succumbing to this common misconception about what culture is and isn’t and I felt that it was time to take a moment to clarify a few things for the rest of my readers who may be feeling similar frustrations.
The concept of organizational culture has become widely accepted as a critical component of performance in recent years. With this, I find that a great many of my discussions with leaders, often, teeter between several topics that fall within the realm of culture but are not one and the same. This reality can create some understandable confusion and frustration for people.
One common situation that I find myself running into are conversations with business leaders who are attempting to evolve the cultures of their organization but who, in reality, are focusing on organizational climate. Many business leaders tend to utilize the terms organizational culture and organizational climate interchangeably, and while they share many similarities, there are several key differences that delineate them from one other.
The SHRM 2019 Spring People + Strategy Journal has been published and in the Perspectives Department, Anna Tavis presents “The Adaptability Challenge.” Martin Reeves, Director of BCG’s think tank, BCG Henderson Institute, is the lead author on this topic writing about “What Makes an Adaptive Company?” Chris Cancialosi, Founder and Partner at gothamCulture, provided one of the counterpoints to the focal article with “Expanding the Lens to Organizational Culture.” To read the article and all of the counterpoints click here.
Customer experience is a memory. An impression that can stick in the mind for a minute or a lifetime. A positive experience can result in lasting loyalty, endorsement, and evangelism. A poor experience, on the other hand, can almost instantly mean the end of a brand relationship.
PwC reports that 79% of customers rate customer experience as the most important component of the purchasing decision after product quality and price. According to this research, 59% of consumers who love a brand are prepared to forsake it after having a series of poor experiences. The firm also claims that 17% will walk away after only one bad experience. Needless to say, this is concerning for any business.
In order to create amazing customer experiences, companies need to ensure that they have the appropriate bedrock in place to enable brand and culture to be successfully integrated. In this article, we will discuss the three primary foundations – purpose, promise, and values.
Workplace Loneliness and the Importance of Community
A huge factor in the prevalence of loneliness at work is the lack of a nurtured and authentic community. As humans, we are organically communal. When the ability to form connections is absent it’s natural for us to feel isolated.
In the workplace, community and culture are influenced by company values. Often those values aren’t overly difficult to identify. The hard part is bringing them to life. Whereas values are defined, community is forever moving. It’s not a process. It’s an organic ecosystem that in many ways constantly evaluates the meaning of business values at a single point in time rather than adhering to them ongoing in an unwavering manner. In short, communal interactions are stress tests in cultural authenticity. They determine which values matter the most and challenge those that may not be overly robust or that employees can’t live by. A positive values-driven community breaks down silos. It laterally cuts across organizations taking politics and difficult divergent views out of the picture. It has the power to bond by removing obstacles through shared goals, interests and commitments. It galvanizes and helps individuals and the company as a whole to grow, and through all of this, it’s one of the most significant ways to prevent or reduce loneliness. Community through culture must, therefore, be fostered for the good of everyone.
7 Ways to Reduce Isolation In The Workplace
All is not lost. There are many approaches worth considering to manage the problem of loneliness in the workplace. Not every one is right for every company, but here are seven to consider.
According to Psychology Today 40% of people will experience the pain of loneliness during their lifetime. Despite its prevalence, the feeling of being alone or isolated is an often-misunderstood condition. Here are some facts.
Loneliness increases the likelihood of serious illness by repressing our immune systems. Depression, heart disease, strokes, panic attacks, low energy, and mental paralysis can all occur
Admission of loneliness is contagious. When a person opens up about their sense of negative isolation, 52% of his or her friends are more likely to subsequently admit they have the same challenge
It’s no longer a condition solely associated with the elderly. The average age of those suffering is declining fast
It poses a greater health risk than obesity
It’s worse for our health than smoking 15 cigarettes a day
Acute loneliness increases the likelihood of early death by 14%
You’ve mapped out your rebrand. The vision, purpose, values, personality and principles are in the bag. The logo and tagline are nailed. The style guide is finished. The creative department is excited and the media and communications teams are ready to roll. You’ve presented your PowerPoint to the company. They seemed to like it but few questions were asked. After all, to them, this is the domain of only the marketing department. Isn’t it?
Anyone who has ever attempted to lead change in an organization, regardless of its size and complexity, will attest that it’s not for the faint of heart. One simple attestation to this is the countless number of books and articles written on the topic.
While organizational change can be difficult, regardless of the circumstances, it can be particularly challenging to create change in organizations that have long-standing histories and deeply embedded cultural norms, beliefs, and assumptions. Organizations that are solidly grounded in legacy and that place significant value on an enviable history oftentimes have the most difficulty creating change. This is especially true when these organizations are attempting to create transformative change (completely disruptive) as opposed to evolutionary change (small slices of change over time).