When you work to change the culture of an organization, you are fighting a losing battle.
When you work to change the current behaviors of an organization, you stand greater odds for success.
What is organizational culture?
If we’re to make any progress, it needs to describe the day-to-day experience of the average worker.
Work Culture a collection of the explicit actions of how work gets done:
- Employee onboarding
- Meeting management
- Payroll process
- Goal setting
- Policy & procedures
Work Culture is a collection of the implicit actions of how work gets done:
- Power & authority
- Corner office perks
- Unspoken issues
- Favoritism & how to win favor
- Workarounds due to excessive bureaucracy
Using the word “culture” promotes dysfunctional behaviors into an area of being undiscussable. Then we make the undiscussableness undiscussable, reinforcing a series of bad behaviors.
“We don’t set long-term goals. It’s not part of our culture.” OR “We don’t document our work. It’s not part of our culture.” OR “We don’t share staff and resources. It’s not part of our culture.”
When someone calls something ‘part of our culture,’ it is no longer open for discussion, even when most people hate the behavior and know that this culture is broken.
When we try to examine the culture, it’s quickly called undiscussable & people who are behaving in ways that are hurting the company or team do not need to be held responsible for their behavior.
What to do?
Stop using “Culture”. Instead use “Current Behavior”.
Shifting the word to Current Behavior will allow everyone to access the systems that are driving the behaviors. You can create small steps to change current behaviors into future behaviors of doing better work through the discussion.
What do you think?
Reflecting upon what you see as organizational culture, what happens when you switch to Current Behaviors? How does that change your discussion and ideas for progress?