Culture Defines the Rules of the Road

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Apr 10

One of the things we haven’t written about much here on Cube Rules is the culture of the corporation and how that culture affects people’s ability to perform work.

It’s a really tough subject to write about as culture is different between companies, between departments within a company and even between teams within a department. On top of all that, the culture of all of those different entities varies over time: to be expected.

But, culture is something to be written about. It’s important. It’s important from the point of view of accomplishing work, knowing how far one can go in terms of getting things done, and is the killer interview subject for a Cubicle Warrior looking for a job. What is the culture? Would I succeed in the culture? Can I excel in the culture? How tolerant is the culture of new ideas, new members and new initiatives?

It’s a mystery.

Systematic HR, a blog about “the intersection between HR strategy and HR technology,” found an interesting definition that perhaps defines the starting point on this subject. From a self-serving piece from Aon, culture is this:

In essence, culture can be described as representing the enduring qualities and characteristics of an organization that explain why things happen the way they do. Culture defines a company’s “rules of the road,” while at the same time generating a powerful influence on what a company can achieve and what it cannot. It has direct impact on attaining strategic objectives and whether management efforts at improvement succeed or fail. It provides an understanding of work behavior that is out of reach of the more traditional measures of job performance, and it has been shown to have a significant impact on an organization’s long-term success.

A lot has been discussed on the importance of “leadership.” Leadership, I believe, is less important than working through the culture to achieve goals. Leadership is less important than “follow-ship.”

But culture trumps all. Culture defining the ‘rules of the road’ is a start in the discussion. Systematic HR found a nugget of gold that enables us to begin our thinking around the subject. Kudos!