Do behaviours matter?


Throughout our interactions with organisations we find we are continually talking about what culture they are trying to build, trying to understand and measure or how they can shape the culture they need to sustain organisational effectiveness into the future.

What do we mean by culture? It is created through the messages team members receive about what is valued by the organisation.

This is best described if we consider firstly, what the organisation is trying to achieve in terms of business outcomes and financial results and the way they approach their interactions with their customers.

The other important building block in terms of culture is the organisational belief systems, how team members feel about being part of the organisation and how this plays out in the way the treat each other and their customers.

The key messages about what is valued are influenced through the systems and symbols that underpin the day-to-day operations. These include the approach to budgeting and planning, performance review/reward systems, what is measured and how it is tracked, how the organisation is structured as well as what is reported and when. Some of the key symbols that play an important role in determining organisational culture are how budgets are allocated, where time is spent, where people sit and how they are treated, who is allocated car parking and the organisation's approach to flexible working hours.

However, if we truly want to understand what is "valued around here" - then behaviours do matter. We build an organisational culture by paying attention to the way we treat each other, what is role modelled by organisational leaders and how we interact with our internal and external customers.

It is through behaviour that we set standards and build trust. Leadership is important at every level. Team members need to be empowered to make decisions and supported when they do so. Managers need to understand that they set the standards every day, it is as much about what they don't do as it is about what they do. Not addressing poor behavior sends strong messages to team members about "what is accepted around here".

Organisations need to focus on behavior in order to truly understand the messages that are being conveyed, both formally and informally. It is important they understand where they are at, what they need to keep doing or what they need to do differently in order to achieve the business outcomes that will facilitate their future success.

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