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The lunch-hour lecture may be a great idea, but it is not what we have in mind when we say that culture influences productivity. Mozart in the morning does not necessarily mean that five extra tonnes of ore will be produced per employee per shift.

When we speak of the culture of an organization, we refer to the behaviour patterns and standards that bind it together. Some organizational cultures encourage productivity; many do not.

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Culture should not be confused with climate. Climate is the short-term mood of an organization. Unlike culture, it is fragile and subject to change.

How Beliefs Affect Culture

An organization”s culture encompasses everything it does and everything it makes. That is, it not only affects the manner in which managers manage (and consequently shape employee behaviour), but it also affects the way in which the organization processes its product and provides services to its customers.

Culture is influenced by an organization”s beliefs. For example, if we believe, as many managers still do, that the blue-collar worker is capable only of operating a machine, and this belief permeates the company, then the organization is overlooking the possibilities of collaborative goal setting, positive feedback, open dialogue and innovation. A navigator who believes the world is flat will refuse to explore the far horizon for fear of falling off the edge. So too these tradition-bound managers resist exploring new ways to manage. They have been thrust into an authoritarian style of management.

Actions Speak Louder That Words

A company”s culture tells the people who work for it what is right and wrong, what to believe, what not to believe, how to react and how to feel. And its actions speak louder than …

…s are established with the realization that the only true discipline is self-discipline. Guidelines are established to provide regular and positive feedback, praise and coaching by the supervisors.6.

Employees see that the organization values the individual and his or her integrity, and that discipline provides a framework. It give employees confidence to experiment, their confidence stemming from knowing what really counts in the organization.7.

The successful organization thrives on internal competition, a value quite consistent with our North American way of life. We compete for school grades, we believe in the free enterprise system.8.

These companies are often characterized by open, frequent and intense communications, a feeling of informality and a go-with-the-flow attitude. Internal politics are a minor consideration.

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