Saturday, 9 February 2013

How’s your culture?


 It’s been a while!

Apologies to anyone that may have missed my ramblings but so much has happened in the last 11 months such as relocating back to the UK and a job change however, I’m now planning to getting back to producing regular posts – still on the focus of leadership, management and emotional intelligence so at least there’s no change there.

This month’s focus is on culture – as in the culture of the organisation and how it directly affects organisational performance. 

A healthy culture drives good performance.  And that’s it! 

If only all Managers would remember that!

I’ll never forget walking into a medical centre and reading a sign on the wall stating, ‘Our patients always come first.’  Then I met the receptionist who did what seemed to be her level best at being rude, abrupt and cold.  So much for service!  I hate to stereotype and I’m no way implying that all medical receptionists are like this – anymore than all car mechanics will try to rip you off at every opportunity; nor am I saying that all real estate agents are liars.  They’re not. 

But some are.

The question is why?  I appreciate that we all have bad days but what if this behaviour is endemic across the organisation?  The answer I believe is likely to be found within the organisational culture.   No amount of value statements or customer promises are of any use if they don’t live up to reality.

If you were given a list of prescribed behaviours in a staff handbook during your induction or on-boarding process, and you can clearly see that the organisation isn’t upholding their promises – then tear them up!  Having them look back at you will only increase your frustration and serve as a reminder of how you were tricked into believing what you were first told when you joined.  Remember? Being excited and nervous; hoping that you’d made the right decision to sign the contract that now binds you to this organisation that’s been lying to you from the very start.  Just ignore them, do your own thing and realize that no matter where you go in your professional life, it will always be like this.  Live with it.  And now you have an open license to behave as miserably and obnoxiously as everybody else.

Or, you could try and make a difference. 

Irrespective of where you sit in your organisation you do have the power and the responsibility to promote good values.  It doesn’t matter if you clean hospital corridors or run a profit making organisation – you can still make a difference.  You start by thinking of the image that you portray to others.  Are you helpful?  Are you aloof? Take a close and honest look at your own behaviours and concentrate on how others may perceive you.  The constant display of a positive and welcoming disposition creates interest from others.  People will become drawn to you.  People will like you.  And soon, some will even start to act like you.  Granted, sometimes it may feel like shovelling water uphill but over time, it will cause an effect.  These are the first steps in creating a positive identity and culture.  You will begin to motivate others to act more appropriately and I can guarantee that they will feel better about themselves as will you.  You can make a difference.

Unfortunately, many middle and senior managers are driven by the bottom line.  That being how much revenue they can bring into the company – or how many of their targets they’ve met this quarter and so on.  It’s usually how their performance is assessed and rewarded.  These managers often become so focused on the metrics that they forget how to behave.  They lose sight of the fact that they can and do influence the culture which impacts directly on those around them initially – and then the reputation of the organisation eventually.  The constant pressures placed on them to succeed in these areas often leads to them engineering win/lose situations – when winning comes at almost all cost.  What they also forget is that usually, their success rate is directly or indirectly dependent on the performances of others.  And there’s the rub.  If those other people are disenfranchised because the manager is creating a negative culture, then the manager’s chances of success diminishes.  What’s more, because of their behaviours, these managers start to lose repeat business and find themselves working even harder to hit their targets as they’re always having to find new clients to win over.  It becomes self-perpetuating and causes long-term and sometimes irreparable damage to the business that they represent.

Culture is such an important cornerstone to an organisation’s success.  Sick cultures often come back to bite you.  Look what happened recently at the BBC. 

Culture; how to influence and transform it is a huge area that clearly could never be covered in a single blog post.  My aim here is to get you to think about the culture of your organisation and how you may make a difference.

If you work for an organisation that doesn’t live up to its values or, if you are a business owner, take a few minutes to think about the current culture-state of your organisation this weekend,  then think about how you may influence it for the better.

Wishing you well in all that you do,



  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, that's very kind.

      Do you write yourself? Please send me a link to your blog if you do.

      Best wishes,


  2. Keep it up,you had a nice blog

  3. Hi Sanusi Tunde Abdul Hamid

    Thanks for dropping by.

    Up TeaM NIgEriA!!!

    Congratulations on Nigeria winning the African Cup of Nations.

    Best wishes,


  4. Lovely piece Keith. Enjoyed reading it. It's easy to get sucked in to behaviours that you don't subscribe to and up to us as individuals to stay true to ourselves. Keep on blogging :)

    1. Hi Anonymous,

      Thank you for your kind comments and encouragement.

      Shame that you didn't leave contact details so that I could address you by name.

      Best wishes in all that you do,