A really interesting read on the relationship between accountability, leadership and the impact on organizational culture. Short answer: if you want to change organizational culture, it has to start at the top.
” When someone like Governor Chris Christie stands up and says “I’m responsible because it happened on my watch” the public often gets the sense that the speaker is being disingenuous and the underlying message is, “Yes, I’m responsible, but not directly.” But leaders are responsible directly for the behavior of others because leaders are accountable for the day-in and day-out operating culture of their organization. Leaders may not be able to monitor everything, but it’s a leader’s job to make sure there’s an organizational culture in place that assures that what happens on their watch is consistent with their intent. Leadership and culture are two concepts that are inexorably connected.”
So, how can an organizational culture be created that ensures that the work represents the organization’s mission? (italics are my comments):
- Articulate a core cultural statement – However, it’s not enough to just articulate a statement, it has to be supported at every turn and incorporated into everything from mission statements to employee reviews. EVERYTHING.
- Develop a cultural vocabulary – and use it!
- Model your behavior – Be the culture! Don’t just pay it lip service – your actions, words, tone, language – even they way you dress – needs to support the culture. The higher up in the administrative chain, the more important it is to set the tone. I don’t know how many times I have heard people talk about an organization having a diversity or tolerance statement but yet they do not feel that it is REALLY supported. Even something as minor as casual friday plays into organizational culture – after all casual friday is not really casual if the boss shows up in a suit!)
- Avoid cultural drift: “ Day-in and day-out, leadership should reinforce, recognize, and reward behavior that’s consistent with your core cultural statement.” – Consistency and recognition. One of the easiest things to do in management is to ignore good behavior and performance. Isn’t the expectation that a person who does their job is… well… doing their job? True, but everyone works better with appreciation and recognition. We all want to feel valued. Just as with a garden, a positive organizational culture needs to be nurtured and fertilized!