Organizational Culture: The Alka-Seltzer Method
More and more companies today have come to understand that employees are demanding that the company they work for fit their values and beliefs about how employees and coworkers should treat each other. They look at a company’s philosophy about customers and their beliefs about social causes. And most importantly, they look at organizational culture. And if the company doesn’t fit the mold, the employees go elsewhere.
Some companies have not spelled out what behaviors support their specific culture. And this creates confusion for employees. For other companies, there is no connection between what’s documented and what’s actually happening. New recruits may be told during an interview about the mission and how people interact but once hired, find that isn’t how people really act day-to-day.
There are many ways one can define organizational culture, but the one we’re looking for is along these lines: the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes and institute, organization, or group. Basically, it’s the attitude and behaviors of the company as a whole. You can document your mission and clearly articulate behaviors, but if you’re not constantly demonstrating and talking about those behaviors, what does that do for your culture? You can have a thriving organization whose vision makes you feel all warm and toasty inside…but do you think those words in the vision or mission statement really define who or what your company is? Not necessarily.
“Culture is a little like dropping an Alka-Seltzer into a glass – you don’t see it, but somehow it does something.” – Hans Magnus Enzensberger
You’ve likely already defined what your ideal organizational culture looks like. It’s possible you have words listed on your website, your corporate office wall, or even other places that employees can see them. But do those words truly demonstrate where you are, or do they demonstrate where you want to be?
The thing we sometimes forget about organizational culture is that it’s ever-changing. Times change, goals change, technology changes, and most importantly, people change. With all these variables, being culturally sound is something that you will always have to strive for. And something you’ll always need to closely monitor.
It’s about the employees within the organization and whether or not they can believe in your mission and behave according to your company’s values. So how do you get employees that have those instilled values? One thing we’ve said before is that when you hire employees, you need to hire for attitude – train for everything else. In the interview, someone can say, “Yes, I’m respectful.” But do their stories and scenarios demonstrate respect? Are you even asking the right questions?
The thing we sometimes forget about organizational culture is that it’s ever-changing.
Alka-Seltzer works because once the little tablet is dropped into water it dissipates, leaving only the active ingredients behind – aspirin, sodium hydrogen carbonate, and citric acid. While you can no longer see the tablet, you know it works because the ingredients are still there. Think of your mission statement as your “tablet”. Once it dissipates, you should have key ingredients left behind that just seem to work: respect, choices, trust, loyalty, etc.
So the next time you walk into work and feel that “vibe,” people aren’t quite clicking, and everyone always seems to be in a bad mood…maybe you should ask yourself this question: What’s in your company’s Alka-Seltzer?
Click here for signs that your culture might be failing.Culture is a little like dropping an Alka-Seltzer into a glass – you don’t see it, but somehow it does something. - Hans Magnus Enzensberger Click To Tweet The thing we sometimes forget about organizational culture is that it’s ever-changing. Click To Tweet