At a recent conference, the keynote speaker said, “Culture is what people do when they are not being watched.” The speaker leads a company with 20,000 employees and he indicated he does not worry about watching them closely or worrying about their productivity. If only all leaders could have this viewpoint.
Would you enjoy working for a company where you are continually watched or monitored? Most businesses use time reports in some form for employees paid an hourly wage. Employers believe this is a way to track an employee’s productivity but is it? Time reports actually just track the number of hours worked. They do not indicate whether real work had been accomplished.
Because I work in the public accounting industry and our revenues are mostly driven by selling our time, reporting our time is very important. Not only do we submit weekly time reports (some firms report daily) but those time reports actually indicate our productivity because we must account in detail for every 15 minutes during the day.
A company’s culture demonstrates itself by more than the productiveness of employees. Many things feed into a company’s culture. First, culture starts at the top of the organization. Whatever the leader practices (not necessarily says) will guide the employees as to what is acceptable behavior. Can you think of a company at which the leader made the news for a reason other than acceptable behavior? It is likely that event or something similar could have been predicted by simply looking into the culture of the organization.
The first year my daughter played select volleyball she played for a first-year club. The entire season was filled with drama from the coaches, players and parents. It was a terrible experience for my daughter and us. At first, we thought she was playing for a wonderful coach because he had lots of charisma and it was evident he was passionate about the game. Unfortunately, being able to play a sport does not make one a good coach. He was terrible as a coach and even worse as a club director. He did nothing to stop the drama that was building on a daily basis.
The next season we knew what kind of club we did not want our daughter to play for. Thankfully, we found the right club and this will be her fourth year playing for a club that understands what culture is all about.
What do you do if you work for an organization without a good culture? You have three choices.
- You can keep working and pretend you don’t care about improving the culture
- You can quit and look for opportunities with other organizations
- You can keep working and be the leader at changing the culture
Regarding the third option, you probably will not be able to immediately change the culture at the top of the company. But you can drive a culture change for those you work with on a daily basis. Just a simple change in attitude can make an impact. Once those few co-workers feel the need to change the culture, it will continue to climb that corporate ladder. Sure, it may never make it to the very top of the organization but at least every day will be much more enjoyable for you.
Instead of posting comments about the organizations that need makeovers, please post a comment about what you’ve done to change the culture in your organization. This may help someone else effect change. Also, please post a comment about an organization you work for or just know of that has great culture.