31. The Consequences of Accidental Culture
Welcome to this very important episode of the Lead Thru Values podcast
This is James and today we’re going to be discussing how accidental elements about your company culture are disrupting your growth, creating layers of busyness for you and others, and ultimately damaging the customer experience.
If you’re new to this show and found this podcast based on doing a search about this topic, I’d like to acquaint myself with you and be clear what organizational culture is.
Because that sets the foundation for understanding what accidental culture is, how it happens and the unintended impact it causes in your company, your department and even at the team level.
So what exactly do I mean when I’m talking about workplace culture?
Simply put, it’s the collection of attitudes, agreements and behaviors that dictate how work gets done here.
Organizational culture is all about performance. It’s the driver of your strategies, goals and the results you achieve.
It defines how you’re different (better) from your competition, what you stand for, what you don’t stand for.
In the beginning stages of a business, culture is at the forefront of every discussion.
It’s the things that get written down on a napkin at the restaurant as you’re talking about who we are, who we want to be, how we will better, the things we’ll never compromise on, a desire to make it fun, and this is what people rally around and get excited about.
And as the business grows roots, these things continue to be talked about in every meeting, over coffee, over a beer, over a burger.
But as the business grows and there’s more things to do and manage, this tribal knowledge gets kind of lost.
The founders and first core group of employees still know it. It still guides their actions and decisions for the most part.
But growth means that the pace increases
The workload increases
there’s more responsibilities
there’s more things oversee
more processes to manage.
And as you hire new people to join, that tribal knowledge isn’t really passed on.
The new employees don’t have the luxury of being part of those meetings where you determined your non negotiable.
They get a glimpse of the culture.
And without this foundation of tribal knowledge, they do things a little different.
Perhaps they cut a corner here or there.
They may not be as committed to returning phone calls the same day so your customers that you’ve trained to expect ultra responsive service aren’t getting that.
Growth outpaces your technology and your systems.
When spreadsheets and sticky notes used to work well enough, you’re now realizing that you’re missing important details more often than not
And that means you’re missing sales, which means you’re missing revenue and profits
You’re in the storming stage now. And without realizing it, the great culture you started with that set you apart… has become something else… something less.
While accidental culture shifts happen because of rapid growth especially in the startup phase, it can also occur from a lack of leadership.
That leadership gap could be due to business growth… or business decline.
In either case, a leader’s day will be occupied with how to manage it.
phone calls, meetings, more meetings, emails
They find themselves in reaction mode and this can dominate their calendar and focus for weeks - even months.
Accidental culture shift may also occur by putting a leader into a role who’s not a good leader
They may be inexperienced, insecure and/or immature.
I just published podcast on August 3, 2021 entitled Why You Might Be Setting New Leaders Up To Fail where I break those 3 characteristics down.