Organizational culture consists of the shared values and beliefs that inform how people within a company behave. Additionally, the behavior of the organization also falls under the culture umbrella.
The importance of an organization’s culture has been gaining recognition in recent years. This reflects the rising value given to the employee experience, the customer experience, and alignment with a brand’s purpose and values.
Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) offers a fully online Master of Business Administration (MBA) with a concentration in Management – Leadership. This degree program is designed to help students develop leadership skills focused on improving every aspect of an organization.
In traditional organizational cultures, unspoken values are generally implied through positive and negative reinforcement, maintaining top-down performance expectations. Repetitive behaviors are influenced primarily through monetary or non-monetary incentives and sanctions or punitive measures.
Such workplace cultures tend to be autocratic, reliant on unilateral leadership decisions. They foster competition and compliance, which can drive a workforce to provide intended results in easily measurable ways. This can be beneficial in business environments based on long-term, fixed business plans and growth models.
Yet modern businesses must be agile, ready to pivot at a moment’s notice to maintain a competitive advantage amidst volatility, uncertainty and seemingly continuous disruption. Such an environment requires creativity, collaboration and constant innovation and iteration, all of which don’t commonly thrive in top-down organizational cultures.
Today’s customers also expect personalized communication, experiences and customer service as well as continuous, responsive product improvement. They make buying decisions based on a business’s values demonstrated through social, corporate and environmental responsibility in action.
Business leaders who wish to nurture transparent organizational cultures would do well to promote innovation and collaboration as well as employee-customer engagement and alignment.
How Can Leadership Work to Improve Organizational Culture in the Workplace?
To develop organizational culture, leaders should clearly articulate what that culture can and should be, while inspiring others to join in that vision. Including employees in cultural creation helps promote a shared vision.
Authentic leaders demonstrate and practice the behaviors and values they wish to see. They promote innovation, engagement and productivity through one-on-one and widespread recognition of employee successes. They incentivize and celebrate new ideas, creativity and collaboration. Taking these steps builds a trust-based culture that gives every employee a voice, valuing their feedback, ideas and contributions.
Developing trust and innovation also means reframing employee mistakes and empowering employees to take risks. It helps to take a growth-oriented approach to missteps and conflict to ensure continuous improvement.
Hiring teams that seek talent to align with an organization’s vision and values affirms company culture. Taken to an extreme, such alignment can result in homogenous groups, limiting diversity. Thus, recruitment should also focus on what people can add to the organization’s culture, enriching the potential for collaboration and innovation.
Leaders can also work on integrating shared culture and values with the organization’s brand purpose. Blurring the lines between internal and external culture can help create community between an organization, its employees and its customers. This develops a sense of belonging, mutual appreciation and alignment, driving loyalty and empowering employees to engage authentically with customers.
An integrated internal and external culture that fits cohesively with brand purpose builds trust, loyalty and engagement in employees and customers alike. By cultivating such a culture, leaders can boost employee morale, improve the customer experience and help a business realize its vision. Effective leaders strive to create environments where all workers feel aligned with their organization’s purpose and values.
FGCU’s Leadership MBA program is unique in its emphasis on a cross-cultural, people-oriented approach to leading and influencing based on authenticity and ethical decision-making.