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Organizational culture, what it is and tips


  1. What is organizational culture? 
  2. Poor corporate culture - it's in the walls
  3. What impact does management have on organizational culture?
  4. Challenges in creating a positive organizational culture
  5. Examples of how to create a healthy culture in your company

What is organizational culture? 

The concept of organizational culture (non-profit or not-for-profit organization) or corporate culture (for-profit company) is defined as "the coherent approach to people, organizations and the systems within which they interact". The terms organizational and corporate culture stand for the same thing but the difference is that it applies to non-profit or for-profit companies/organizations, in this article I will write both words, but I start from organization regardless of which word I use. I will provide an insight into the question - "what is organizational culture?" and also give you four tips on how to strengthen your organizational culture.

Organizational culture is about the values, rules, norms, expectations and actions that express the organization's approach to its employees. It is the atmosphere that governs how the organization functions and what results it can achieve. An organizational culture affects both how people experience their work situation and how they engage, as you can hear this is an important aspect of any company or organization! 

The great thing about a strong organizational culture is that it provides better conditions to take care of employees in the long term but also to move the organization forward. This can be seen in the study The Impact of Employee Engagement on Organizational Performance, which shows how high organizational performance is linked to the level of employee engagement, which means - when your employees are happy, the company is more likely to do well!

Poor corporate culture - it's in the walls

A poor organizational culture often has a major impact both overall and on individuals. This can lead to reduced productivity, lower motivation, increased conflict, reduced morale and overall increased stress levels. The behaviors that work against the goals set are probably something that has been allowed to develop in different contexts within the group and rarely something an individual employee is fully responsible for. To counteract this, it is important to think about creating a working environment that encourages communication and cooperation. It is also important to ensure that there are no formal or informal barriers that prevent employees from achieving their goals. This is because culture is not only what is officially written down, but also what is implicit and has been allowed to develop in the break room and in conversations at work and outside of work. Ask yourself - does the group have the tools available to make a positive organizational culture possible?

What impact does management have on organizational culture?

There is no doubt that leadership has a huge impact on company culture. They set the company's values, goals and priorities, and it is these that branch out throughout the organization and have an impact on every employee. When managers take the time to actively engage and motivate, it creates a positive workplace that encourages innovation and new ideas. However, if management does not have a genuine interest in improving the company, the company culture can become slow, demotivating and even toxic. To create a healthy company culture, a leader must be able to adapt to conditions that affect the organization. Therefore, leaders should strive to inspire and engage their staff, creating a positive culture where everyone can grow and develop. A strong and healthy company culture is crucial to attracting talent and achieving long-term success in an increasingly competitive world. It is no longer enough to point out what is good when employees flag the things that are not working.

Challenges in creating a positive organizational culture

Creating a good organizational culture can be a challenge. There are several obstacles that can be encountered during the process, but that does not mean it is impossible, far from it! One obstacle can be getting everyone in the organization to understand the importance of a positive organizational culture. There is still a belief that organizational success is only about numbers and results, but this is far from the truth. A positive organizational culture is essential for the organization to function as efficiently and productively as possible. Another challenge is the ability of the organization and its employees to manage change.

It is natural to feel resistance to change something that works (more or less well), but it may be necessary to maintain a positive organizational culture as changes are needed to keep up with developments in the market but also in society at large. It is also important that the leaders in the organization are committed and follow the same values and principles that they expect other employees to follow. If the leaders are not committed, it will be difficult to get other employees to feel motivated to follow.

Another challenge is finding the right work-life balance. Having a healthy work-life balance enables all employees to feel more satisfied and motivated at work.

Finally, perhaps the biggest obstacle is following up and sustaining the work done to strengthen the elements that work within the organizational culture. This requires commitment from all employees and working on these things with each other, as I mentioned earlier. It is important to set a strategy to maintain a good culture and to ensure that employees feel valued and engaged. By overcoming these obstacles, you can create a great organizational culture that benefits all employees and the organization as a whole. 

Examples of how to create a healthy culture in your company

1. Change needs participation and influence

One of the key success factors in developing an organization is the involvement of employees. Involving employees in various processes such as strategy development, planning and decision-making is an important factor in building successful relationships. It is important that employees understand the strategies to be implemented and are involved in them so that they feel a sense of purpose and belonging to the company. Involvement promotes shared learning and allows employees' expertise to be put to good use.  

A feeling that you are involved in influencing the direction and that you are really being listened to increases the motivation to do a good job both on a personal level and for the company's development and results. It is about involving the employee so that everyone is moving towards the same goal.

Listening to feedback and taking into account employees' suggestions and ideas is part of empowerment and is crucial to building a good organizational culture. When managers encourage open dialogue about areas for improvement, the conditions for improved business performance can be created and employees can enjoy a more positive working environment.

Inspiration and vision. It is really important to take advantage of the feedback in order for the influence to be fully effective. 

2. The importance of inspiration  

One way to strengthen organizational culture is to provide employees with inspiration to increase the quality of work and sense of purpose in the workplace.

Finding inspiration for your organization can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be. There are many creative and innovative ways to breathe new life into your organization. Start by taking a look at other companies in the same field to see if inspiration can be drawn from them. Perhaps they have implemented practices or procedures that really stand out as a workplace you want to be in.

Employees also have specific skills for exactly what you need and, as mentioned, are motivated by being involved in driving the development - what a great opportunity to engage the staff to see what ideas there may be for increased inspiration for the whole company! 

3. Through goals you create change

Creating a positive organizational culture requires clear goals for the work of the organization and frameworks that enable employee involvement in achieving them. First of all, leaders need to define the overall goals that the organization is striving for. The leader should also choose goals that are specific to the different areas of the organization, so that all employees know what is expected at the individual level, these goals should be realistic and the employee needs to be well equipped with the right tools to do the work required. 

4. Different procedures for non-routine issues 

Management should also create a system to deal with problems that arise when employees have difficulty meeting the demands or expectations of the organization. It is important that managers set an example with positive and clear communication. For tasks that are outside the routine or unusually demanding or unclear, the leader needs to step in and act as a support for the employee and give clear directives so that the employee can move towards a solution. In these cases, but also in more routine and simple tasks, positive feedback and appreciation are important factors to consider. With clear communication, the opportunity for productivity is improved along with the opportunity for individuals to develop and less energy needs to be spent on what is not working!

To sum up

As you can see, there is no magic solution to how to create a good organizational culture, as organizational culture is a detailed network that constitutes the entire "soul" of the company. Nevertheless, there are concrete areas that are important to work on towards the goal of creating a company where the employees AND the company feel good! So the question is - do you want to be challenged together in the workgroup for long-term gain? 

Next steps

If you are curious about how to work on the culture in your work group, sports team or the whole organization, I can strongly recommend further reading about team coaching here. The method I use for team coaching sees an average increase in team performance of 20% on teams worldwide. With research-based tools where we measure both so-called hard and soft values to clearly see the effect of team coaching on the team and the organization. 


About the author

Picture of Tommy Davidovic
Tommy Davidovic

Cert. Coach (CPCC, PCC, CTPC) & Mental Trainer. I help performers in sport, career and life to maximize their success and feel good in the process.

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