We’ve heard it a lot and even understand it – “This culture stuff is fluffy. It’s soft stuff. ‘Have a nice day’ and all that is great but I have sales targets to hit, products to get to market, customers to serve. What matters is if I have good people who know how to do their jobs – that’s all”.
And it’s true that you can maintain a decent enough organization with no attempt at crafting a winning culture. But you can’t have a great one – one that energizes and fulfills you, your team, and your customers.
The writer and blogger Shawn Parr defines culture like this: “A balanced blend of human psychology, attitudes, actions, and beliefs that combined either create pleasure or pain, serious momentum, or miserable stagnation”.
We love that definition because it’s vivid and sounds like someone who has been there. It’s no fun to experience misery and boredom at work, even if the paycheck is good and the job is relatively secure. We’d much rather come to work at a place that is pleasurable and marked by momentum!
Execution is key, strategy is important, marketing is crucial, research and development provides an edge – for sure. But culture eats all of these things for breakfast.
Here are some of the results (with a hat tip to Parr) that flow to an organization with a healthy culture:
Everyone knows why they are there and are on point in terms of mission.
If you know why you are doing what you are doing, it’s easy to get keyed up to do it!
Healthy cultures breed teamwork and there are few things as satisfying as being part of a group who accomplishes a shared purpose. People come out of their silos and join one another on the playing field.
Healthy cultures are unified – everyone knows their role and the importance of their contribution and at their best they work together seamlessly.
Spirit is what brings life to an organization, the thing that animates it to be more than a series of soulless objectives or bullet points in a strategic plan. Think of the last time you flew Southwest airlines with its culture of “love” as opposed to your last flight on – you know – one of those ‘other’ big airlines.
That’s the value proposition of a healthy and winning culture – experiencing much more often than not the sorts of workplace qualities that bring life, good relationships, a sense of mission, and lasting accomplishment.