Organisational Culture – Have you defined it yet?

Defining organisational culture is the first real step towards building a great engaged organisation

Is your organisational culture valuable?
Does culture play an important role in employee engagement and organisational growth?

If you answered “yes” to all of the above, then read on, for here is the big question – how many of us have a defined and a well-articulated perspective on culture?

Most of us would have heard a lot about organizational culture in meetings or glanced on walls to see a poster, but it’s unlikely that we have seen a very well defined document on culture. Let’s also be clear – there’s a difference between culture and values. Values define our behaviour while culture is really the glue, or a sum total of the way an organization does, what it does – The Purpose.

In India, the employee engagement battle has always been between the paycheck and the purpose. We tend to focus too much on the former such that the definition and communication of the real purpose is sometimes blurred, and occasionally missed.

You can’t communicate what you haven’t defined

Let’s start by defining the culture and what it means to stakeholders. Here is a simple and a quick self-analysis questionnaire you can follow to articulate culture:

1) What is our organizational culture? 


2) Our Organizational culture is not…


3) How is our Organizational culture adding value to employee, teams, organization, clients and the society? 


4) What are some of the cases or stories where employees displayed this culture?


5) How do we measure culture? 

Who should define organisational culture?

This is where it normally gets sticky. Who should define culture – CEO? HR? Marketing? Internal Communications? Entire Senior Management? All Employees?

There is no single right answer. Or maybe, there is.

If you are a startup, it can be a collective decision considering everyone’s view. After all, we are building the organization from scratch. Of course, the discussion needs to be led by the CEO.

If you are an established organization, the first articulation comes from the CEO. Then the rest of the senior management and the employees weigh in. Still, the discussion needs to be led by the CEO.

Organisational Culture is the CEO’s priority. Don’t be confused as to why culture isn’t an employee’s priority. It is, but the direction setting will have to be done by the leader. Marketing and HR play a key role in unambiguously communicating this to all employees. They are the custodians of culture. They’re the keepers of your DNA.  

The most important role is played by the senior management and the managers in living the culture and protecting its sanctity. This is where rubber hits the road. The best way employees can imbibe culture is to see and learn from the management.  

What next?

Finally, culture is everyone’s business. Every employee is a follower, protector and the ambassador of the organization’s culture. We will talk about each of these roles in detail during the course of next few blogs. We will even talk about the best way to communicate and imbibe culture. First things first – do follow the template and see how well you can articulate your organization’s culture.

Happy to hear your thoughts.