Ask an employee to define his organizational culture and you get a variety of responses. For most employees, organizational culture may be difficult to define but it is easily experienced. Culture is a collection of behaviours. It is determined by people like you and me.

According to Terry Deal & Allan Kennedy in Corporate Cultures
“A strong culture is a system of informal rules that spells out how people are to behave most of the time. A strong culture helps people to feel better about what they do, so they are more likely to work harder”

You as the manager largely determine the culture in your team. Your team members watch you like hawks. They observe what you say and what you don’t say. What you do and what you don’t do. This is observed on an on-going basis. They pick up their perception of your team’s culture from your behaviours. They get their cues on what is acceptable, what is desirable and what is unacceptable in the team based on your reactions.

I once saw a manager sitting in his office. There were several plaques and posters around him extolling the virtues of quality. When one of his team members gave him a report on the last week’s quality matrices, he tossed it aside and talked about why higher output was required from the team. You can well imagine the message the young team member got about the importance of quality!

Another manager was lecturing his team about why they must be punctual and start work on time. Their expressions, when they heard this ranged from disbelief to quiet sniggering. The reason was not far to find. That manager came late more often than not.
What the team members privately thought of the manager can well be imagined. In a later conversation, he said they had never mentioned anything about his late coming. I told him the reason perhaps was that they had no choice. Let them get a better job offer and he would then know the difference. When they walked out on him.

As a manager, you influence the behaviours of your team much more than you might imagine. How you conduct yourself is the best determinant of your team’s culture.

You determine culture. Be a good role model and the rewards will follow.

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