Everyone agrees that culture is important but when it comes to the day to day of creating and implementing culture, things get very vague very fast. The very word “culture” had its heyday in 2014, when it was the most popular word, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary. But in the last few years people seem to have “culture fatigue.” The same companies are applauded year after year for having an amazing culture, but for the rest of us trying to create healthy work environments, it’s not helpful to hear the same case studies year after year. We’ve established that a strong employee experience can translate into a strong customer experience.
But the culture thing appears to be the hardest nut to crack.
And the problem could be middle management where managers struggle to execute a culture.
Culture Should Be Simple, Memorable And Actionable
Michael Stallard, author of The Connection Culture, which I read and really liked, said in an email interview, “Managers are increasingly being asked to improve the culture and employee engagement but they aren’t clear about what that means.” Most people are not clear on what culture actually means. If the response is that culture is a shared set of values, if you go a little deeper with individuals to find out if they share values and beliefs you will find in any given work group they do not share personal values and beliefs as outlined in a recent HBR article.
“In addition, managers are so busy they don’t have time for things that are unclear or don’t clearly produce results,” said Stallard who believes that, because managers are so busy, culture needs to be simple, memorable and actionable.
He added, “Teach managers that culture is thoughts, words and deeds that make people feel connected or disconnected.”
Creating Real And Aspirational Culture
Pat Wadors, former chief human resources officer for LinkedIn and current CHRO for ServiceNow, said in an email interview, “Culture is created by every action – and more specifically – the trends in behavior – that leaders, managers and employees exhibit every day.”
It seems to me many companies want a particular culture, but senior executives put very little effort into exhibiting those behaviors. Executives are often unaware of how much their actions and words have an impact on everyone below them.