Organizational Effectiveness

Culture Drives Behavior. Behavior Drives Culture


Culture is an observable, powerful force in any organization made up of its employee’s shared values, beliefs, and behaviors. Culture guides individual decisions and actions at the unconscious level—resulting in potent effects on a company’s well-being and success.

The most visible level of culture is behavior. Behaviors are shaped by personal philosophies, vision and values, as well as the shared “common sense” norms and practices of the organization. These “norms” prevent people from questioning their culture’s assumed structure — the leadership types, communication, and group dynamics within the organization. The employees perceive the culture as quality of work life — which directs their degree of motivation. These perceptions drive their final performance behavior, individual satisfaction, and personal growth. Over time, these habitual behaviors are fed back to influence the overall organizational culture.

An interesting article that speaks about focusing on the elements of the culture that drives performance rightly states –

Companies with the most effective culture seek out and continually reinforce what Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business (Random House, 2012), calls “keystone habits.” A keystone habit, Duhigg has noted, is “a pattern that has the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as it moves through an organization.” Companies that recognize and encourage such habits stand to build cultures with influence that goes beyond employee engagement and directly boosts performance.

Too few leaders recognize the outsized influence of these key behaviors, however, their efforts to improve performance remain ill focused and diffuse. They find it hard to resist the temptation to pile one directive on top of another; even when those efforts are aligned to the same ultimate goals, they often undermine one another.

No culture type is better than any other — the value is in understanding an organizational culture, and how that culture helps to support the business goals. If the culture is getting in the way of what you want to do — it may be time to change it.

Culture is deep-seated and difficult to change, but leaders can influence or manage an organization’s culture. Helping employees abandon familiar strategies of action for which they have the cultural “equipment” means motivating them to buy-in to change.

More change, right? It’s always about change. “In its simplest form, discontinuity in the work place is change.”  – Knoster & Villa, 2000

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