Why Organizational Culture MATTERS!

A Banker resigned today–very publicly–from his employer and published an Opinion piece in the New York Times (http://tinyurl.com/6ozlqmt).  Some are claiming sour grapes as a result of a lower-than-expected bonus–but, regardless, the editorial is worth noting some key reminders for those that help steer the ships or tend the sails of organizations.

Organizational Culture MATTERS.  I always tell clients, “you can get your culture by accident–or, you can deliberately plan for the culture you desire…and then build it” (your front-line managers are absolutely essential!).  In this instance, the Banker initially identified with the culture at the firm he joined:

“It revolved around teamwork, integrity, a spirit of humility, and always doing right by clients.”

Ultimately, though, 12-years into his employment, he realized that the firm had “veered so far from the place” he joined, that he could no longer say he identified “with what it stands for.”  He no longer had “the pride, or the belief.”

How does this happen?  Very easily, I’m afraid.  When management loses sight of the difference they make in their customers’ lives (their purpose!), or fails to uphold the values their company espouses–day-in, and day-out–the very identity of an organization begins to dilute.  And the people within that organization can not possibly perform at peak levels of performance and engagement.

In the end, it is what leaders talk about, reinforce and DO that influences how others really understand the culture.  In the last paragraph of the letter, the Banker compelled his former employer to “get the culture right again, so people want to work here for the right reasons.”  It’s reasonably simple: Define the culture you want; identify the workplace behaviors that will help you get there; train to expectations (with skill development); and LIVE the plan.

And, if you’re lucky enough, you won’t have an employee resign on the pages of the New York Times.  Ouch.