Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
Can it be organisational culture a competitive advantage? How does it affect growth, and can it be measured accurately? How is it the role of leaders, and of all employees? Within the webinar “Talking the values vs. Walking the values” these topics were discussed by Sladjana Imamovic, consultant for organisational culture and communications at HR Xcel, and Jay Skinner, founder of Values Practice Ltd. and one of the global drivers of change in the understanding of organisational culture as such. The webinar and exclusive conversation with one of the world’s thought leaders in this domain was organized by HR Xcel, a team with many years of international experience and special focus and expertise in the field of human resources and organizational development, which is preparing more interesting topics and content in the near future.
There are many definitions of this term, but Skinner notes at the beginning of the discussion that it is the simplest, which strikes directly at the point, and perhaps the best: Organisational culture is “the way things get done.” It is not just a set of ideas and aspirations, but the driving force of everyday work that, to a large extent, shapes the future of the organisation. It builds the context of everything that is done within the organisation, and influences everything that people believe is possible in the organisation, every decision and action is taken in that context.
“It is understandable why organisational culture has been marginalized in traditional performance management, but today numerous research studies and publications clearly celebrate culture as a predictive key indicator of the company’s success and sustainability. Can we say that organisational culture is a competitive advantage and, if so, in what ways?” Imamovic moved on to the key question.
Competitive advantage, Skinner explains, “is accelerated by good working conditions – a healthy organisational culture awakens the best in people and, in general, attracts the best talent, customers and investors. No one prefers an environment in which a culture is often talked about, but where everyone thinks and acts in a short-term, unethical manner. From a strictly financial perspective, nurturing a healthy work environment saves an organisation from the costs of an unhealthy culture: continuous talent losses and the cost of recruiting new employees, for example.”
You cannot measure organisational culture by conventional performance metrics alone because it is a dynamic ecosystem in which the values of employees, their experiences, and reactions interplay with the legacy artifacts of culture and character of current leaders, to influence the direction in which culture develops. The metrics need to reveal how employees are motivated, as well as track shifts in motivation over time and identify the gaps between departments, while highlighting for senior management the aspects of organisation culture outside of their own current perception.
“The organisation’s ecosystem will balance and be sustainable when it is based on the harmonization of values, needs, and desired results, and when it comes to values – the core values that define the organization are, as their name suggests, core. They unite people, and united people work better. We, as human beings, have core values unique to us as individuals, and when we talk about the core values of an organisation, we are looking for shared meaning and alignment to unite people in purpose driven high performance. These values become a symbol through which everyone can connect their personal values and then function in a group through a common norm. That is why they need to resonate – it is important in the formation of core values to listen to employees and lead dialogues that will harmonize their vision of culture and the direction in which the company will go further, “explains Skinner.
Cultivating an organisation comes from the leaders, and history has shown that it is always great to work for a company whose clearly defined core values originally come from its founder. Leadership today determines the breadth and development of organisational culture, but it is also largely becoming a common good in which every human being participates in their workplace. That’s why Skinner quotes an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
If we want to go far, first of all, we must bridge the gap between the leadership perspective and the experience of employees. It is human nature, Skinner notes, for employees to experience change in an organisation very differently from the leaders. Therefore, they must securely gain a voice for the employee perception to be identified and reconciled with, in order to align the complete corporate vertical and release the full potential of the organisation.
“Wherever we work, we are all active participants of a living system of feedback loops that form the organisational culture. We all bring our personal motivations, values, and beliefs to work – some of which we are not even aware of – and we all have daily reactions to events that affect our further work. Each interaction weaves something into the pattern of organisational culture as a whole. So, every individual contributes to the forces for stability or the forces for change in in the long journey that cultural transformation requires. Leaders have the greatest leverage because so much of their feedback is redistributed in the system.” So, Skinner says,” if you want to go far and fast, engage employees: invest in culture development dialogue, because these feedback loops create the capacity to adapt, evolve, align, and thrive.”
It is not pleasant to look for any advantages of a pandemic, but the webinar participants conclude that this period may be the best moment to focus on culture. Right now, there is an opportunity to build organisational capacity for future success by culture development – specifically, engaging employees in dialogue about the way forward. If we take the example of the possibility of hybrid working, there is a potential to ignite employee motivation and provide some kind of psychological relief by engaging employees in a choice about work location, so restoring some sense of autonomy, reducing anxiety and building aligned commitment for action that will create a better future.