Social purpose organisations have examples of wonderful cultures, average places to work, and awful ones. One of the great things about organisations in this part of the economy is that by and large the mission is wonderful.
So a useful question to ask about culture can be:
“Are our behaviours helping us to achieve our mission and strategy as effectively as possible?”
Values, like integrity, are inspiring but the challenge is often living them, partly because it’s not clear what is expected. Does integrity at Organisation A mean the same thing at Organisation B? To turn these aspirational words into something that supports culture, turn values into agreed observable behaviours. A great way to start this process is to have the executive team define what behaviours they think are critical and then evaluate their own performance for a short while. Then open the conversation more widely.
All organisations experience the pull of silo-ing versus collaboration. These twin forces exist in a creative dynamic and getting the right balance contributes to healthy cultures. One way to strengthen the collaborative force is to create a goal at the team level. When you have something that everyone on a team feels genuine accountability for, and that you track regularly, it supports a collaborative mindset. Running with the theme, a courageous executive team goal might be “We believe we are living our values and the rest of the organisation agrees”.
Defining observable behaviours is a helpful first step (as above), but because we all have slightly different ways that we process information, make decisions and communicate, we need a way to handle our differences within these too. Making it less confrontational to talk about behaviours requires individual insight and a common language. This is where a user-friendly profiling tool can be useful. It gives everyone some sound, non-judgemental and consistent concepts and a reference point. Smoothing the way discussing each other’s behaviours contributes to more insightful and ultimately robust discussion which is foundational for productively navigating change. If there’s something here that appeals to you, reflect on a simple first step you could take.