The BIG culture disconnect

Have your leadership team really engaged your employees when it comes to your organisational culture? 

When it comes to organisational culture, the vision at the top is the driving force but it can all come to nought if individuals and departments are not fully engaged with the strategy. 

One of the recurring themes which we encounter when we are helping organisations reset their culture is the disconnect which occurs between the values they claim to have and the ones which are lived in reality.  The leadership may have gone to great lengths to hammer out the strategy, vision and values which are designed to carry the organisation forward into the future; the web site and the annual statement may reflect those values; members of the leadership team may even be regularly quoted as they pass on their wisdom to other organisations but if the words aren’t backed up on the ground then their work is all for nothing. 

culture needs to be a reality not just a theory

When we write our articles and commentaries we try wherever possible to draw in real world examples, taking culture away from a purely theoretical model and into reality.  And we are going to do so again today with an example of our experience of a change of TV, Broadband and phone provider.   

According to Ofcom, overall satisfaction levels in our provider were either stable or improving so perhaps our experience was more the exception than the rule.  Nevertheless, once the highly satisfactory initial contact and sign up process was out of the way our experience can be summed up as follows: 

  • Customer order not passed on correctly to the person who was making the connections. 
  • Customer services failed to pass on urgent instructions even when supervisor promised they would do so. 
  • Incorrect information given to customer by customer services resulting in the need to rearrange appointments at last minute. 
  • Employee seemingly more concerned about getting a bad rating/review than of doing a good job. This led him to lie to the customer about a connection. 
  • Despite initial errors there was no escalation of fix time. 
  • No apology at any stage 

Was this a fly-by-night company?  No, this was an organisation headed by one of those who is generally held up to be an organisational culture guru, the person who in once commented in Entrepreneur that:  

“No matter how visionary, brilliant and far-reaching a leader’s strategy might be, it can all come undone if it is not fully supported by a strong and spirited corporate culture.” 

The vision is worthless unless it is lived out by everyone in the organisation 

And this is the problem about corporate culture in a nutshell.  The vision at the top, the driving force can all come to nothing if individuals and departments are not fully engaged with the strategy.  When processes and targets and bonuses are more aligned with organisational needs than with customer needs; when individuals and sub-contractors are more aligned with the ‘job’ rather than with the service; that’s when the vision fails and the reputation falters.   

culture is ever evolving 

Company culture is an ongoing, ever changing being and unless the leadership keep an eye on it on an ongoing basis then the vision just may start to cloud. 

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