Don’t Settle for a Culture – Create It!

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The pandemic and its impact on where and how we work has spurred a louder conversation about organizational and team culture. Much of the conversation has been about how a hybrid or remote working environment ruins culture, leading many to opine on the ethos they had pre-pandemic.

While many organizations had a wonderful work culture in 2020, many others are looking back are looking for something known and comfortable – not something that was truly supportive and helpful in reaching personal and organizational goals. As we look at this reality, it provides us an opportunity to learn something about organizational and team culture and gives us the perfect time to apply those same lessons.

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Don’t miss this intriguing webinar from HRDQ-U

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What Is Culture?

Before we go any further, let’s define culture. Culture is simply the way we do things around here. Given that definition, it is important to realize that anytime you bring a group of people together (yes, even virtually), culture will exist. And it will always be changing, too, as the players and context change.

A Non-Work Example

Here’s a simple example of these two profound truths.

Think about a holiday where you gather with your family. There are certain things that happen, certain foods that are served, and a whole variety of things that happen – every time. That is your culture. Now think about how that has changed over the years – maybe not in big ways but in small ones. It changes as people mature, as new family members arrive, as people bring in new spouses, and as people are no longer with you. Your holiday culture exists, yet it changes and evolves.

Now let’s say you wanted to introduce some activity or interaction to the event. It can be done, but it will take effort. It requires the commitment of others for that “new thing” to become part of the culture, right? Importantly, it can be easier to make those desired changes when other changes are also happening (like a new family member is hosting)

What Does That Mean for Our Team and Organizations?

There are (at least) five lessons we can take from the example above.

  • You don’t have to live with the culture you have today. There are three cultures you should consider: the one you had (pre-pandemic), the one you have now, and the one you desire.
  • Building the future needs to take the past into account. There may be facets of your pre-pandemic culture that you want to re-capture. And there may be things from your current one you want to maintain.
  • Define the culture you want. In a family situation, you might not have a family meeting to define this. In order to adjust for the future, keep people’s interests and values in mind.
  • Involve others. For new values to take hold, everyone must be involved. Creating your aspirational culture needs input and commitment from everyone to take shape.
  • Start small. This might not apply in your family situation. In organizations, people often wait for senior leaders to address culture. Senior leaders do have a role to play in your macro-culture, but teams have a micro-culture, too. And much can be adjusted and changed in “the way we do things around here” at the team level.

Final Thoughts

There is no doubt that you already have a culture. You don’t have to live with the one you have. Discuss what you would like it to be – and how your culture could serve individual, team, and organizational needs. When you realize you have the ability to change it, you will take the first step towards improving it.

Author
Headshot of Kevin Eikenberry
Kevin Eikenberry

Kevin Eikenberry is a recognized world expert on leadership development and learning and is the Chief Potential Officer of The Kevin Eikenberry Group. He has spent over 30 years helping organizations across North America, and leaders from over 50 countries, on leadership, learning, teams and teamwork, communication, and more. Global Gurus list him as one of the World’s Top 30 Leadership Professionals. He is the author, co-author, or contributing author to over 20 books, including Remarkable Leadership and bestseller From Bud to Boss: Secrets to a Successful Transition to Remarkable Leadership, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership, The Long-Distance Teammate, and his latest, The Long-Distance Team (all three with Wayne Turmel). His blog is consistently ranked among the world’s best, most read, and most shared on leadership.

Connect with Kevin on LinkedIn.

Recommended Webinar
Strategies to Create the Team Culture You Want & Need

Discover how to leverage team culture for high productivity, engagement, and retention. Learn the value of creating a macro- and micro-culture.

Don’t Settle for a Culture – Create It!
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