Why changing your organizational culture starts with understanding it

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Organizational culture – it’s the big, important abstract concept that every leader is aware of, but few truly have an understanding of what theirs is and what shapes it. When we were kids, many of us likely performed a sort of social experiment as part of learning about cultures and civilizations. We created origin stories, religious beliefs, cultural norms, and patterns for these civilizations and artificially shaped their culture. In other words, we shaped the culture and then told our (imaginary) country’s inhabitants what it was.

But the thing is, that’s not the way it works in the real world and it’s not the way it works in the workplace.

Many companies make the mistake of focusing on the perks – the ping pong and the happy hours; the catered lunches and the birthday cakes. While benefits are important to your workforce – and often reflect the cultural values of an organization – when it comes to shaping culture, it’s important to understand what drives and motivates your people.

What is organizational culture?

It’s a bit of a million dollar question, with many different interpretations. At its core, though, culture is defined by a number of different agreements your entire team – not just its leaders – makes with each other over time, whether known or not. It’s why culture can be shifted, negatively or positively, by the addition or removal of just one person.

“Organizational culture is the sum of values and rituals which serve as ‘glue’ to integrate the members of the organization.”Richard Perrin

Culture is, at the end of the day, the sum of your people.

Using predictive analytics

Built correctly, culture can move an organization to create and achieve great things together. Your story, your values, your norms can all be used to motivate the team – but first you have to understand what motivates your employees. Who are they and what do they care about? What are they frustrated by?

Predictive workforce analytics data about your employees to help you understand them, how to inspire them, what they value, and why they make decisions. If you’re trying to make cultural changes, you have to first understand the people in your culture, to then understand their sum.


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