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25Jun

The Culture Gap: when a company culture doesn't match its actions

Strategy, Leadership, Culture | 25 Jun 2021 |

Company culture is often mistaken to be only about big words and big ideas. That intangible and mysterious thing floating in the air that everyone should somehow know about, understand and be part of.  

While it is true that you can feel a company culture without always being able to pinpoint it immediately, it is actually much more structured and tangible than one might think. One very important aspect of culture is consistency between what is encouraged and how employees, at all levels, can demonstrate culture in action. 

  

Let’s take an example of discrepancy between the idea of culture and what happens concretely. An organisation promotes “Blue Sky Ideas”, it’s painted on the ceiling of meeting rooms, every employee can see it on their desktop screensaver etc. However, if an employee submits an innovative project to their manager, they are turned down immediately without being given the opportunity to try or be challenged to understand why it might not be the best option.   
 

This is not saying that every employee should be able to run with whatever ideas they come up with but, it also sounds fair that they should feel heard and validated when they think outside the box. Especially as it seemed to be encouraged by the company culture.   
 

What seems to be lacking here is a framework and a common language that can help every employee to: 

  • Understand the meaning of the company culture and feel part of it 
  • Be able to put it into practice the way the company expects 

  

Effective company culture involves everyone and is constantly nurtured. It is run by overarching values, concept and behaviours but also translated in ways of working, collaborating and communicating that makes the applications of the culture principles easier. If everyone is clear on both the definition of culture, acceptable behaviours and the frameworks to make it come to life then it will promote consistency across the board.  
 

Culture is a team mission. It is sponsored and led by the board and CEO but then every executive and leader plays a part. It’s not just the HR team, even if they are at the core of it all and potentially drive the main initiatives, ultimately it is every employee of the organisation that will power it up. 


Find out more about our Culture Leadership and Team Performance projects here

We are always happy to help and you can reach out to us directly at [email protected] 

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