Getting real about organisational culture

The recent study by Robert Walters (regarding organisational culture in ANZ), I’ve decided to write about one of my passions – Getting Real about Organisational Culture!
The RW survey is not unique.  I believe it is now time that organisations of all sizes and state of development deal with these issue head on.  It is time to start getting REAL about Organisational Culture.
I got into HR 30 odd years ago with a dream of making organisations fabulous places to work. I thought in my youthful utopian viewpoint, that I would truly change the world.
Thirty years later, I know I have had significant impact on organisations and their cultures that I have worked with, but change the world, I have not! My multi-continent, multi-organisational experiment with organisations of all sizes, stages and industries, has uncovered a number of consistent universal issues with organisational culture of western style organisations that everyone needs to get REAL about.
So, I am going to go rogue and say what few experts are willing to say in public …. When it comes to Organisational Culture, 5 key realities appear time and time again that most folks ignore…

  • Rhetoric is King (especially by Executives, Consultants and those with a vested interest),
  • Organisational Culture is productised by consultants/HR and others to make it palatable to Executives (i.e. easier basket),
  • The misalignment of “espoused” culture versus REAL culture is often significant (even in start-ups),
  • Few CEO’s/Executives do the real work to achieve an aligned culture – there are few quick fixes,
  • Organisational climate and Organisational Culture are often confused by everyone!

These realities are not new!  This phenomenon is highlighted in Peer Reviewed Organisational Culture literature since it has been researched. In my own Research Thesis conducted in 2000-2001, the espoused culture vs. real culture misalignment was prevalent in all the organisations in that research.
So what has changed in 30 years?
Well, it appears that HR has been super successful in convincing both Executives and employees to buy into the idea of Organisational Culture.  However, unfortunately most of this has been rhetoric!  This has increasingly resulted in significant disillusionment (as played out in the majority of sophisticated employee engagement results and the RW survey results below).
More importantly, this misalignment is now causing significant bottom line costs to organisations in terms of productivity, engagement levels and turnover.
The RW (ANZ) survey results state:

  • 96% of employees believe cultural fit is an important factor when weighing up career opportunities
  • 63% of Australians leave their job due to poor cultural fit
  • 53% of Australian workers are misled about company culture during the recruitment process
  • 60% of employees have seen poor cultural fit lead to conflict within their organisation

We’ll talk more about culture in future posts
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