A business is not made up of parts but of people. A machine also responds consistently to input and it can be highly sophisticated. A far better definition of a business organisation is that it is a group of people who become a living organism. A business does not respond consistently to input or to people. And because it is made up of people, it is highly complex.
Peter Drucker, the father of business management said “Culture will eat strategy for breakfast, every day”.
A strong and carefully developed culture helps a company to operate smoothly and efficiently while a poorly designed culture can create a toxic work environment and potentially be very costly.
Culture is generally defined as a system of shared meaning or mindset held by members that distinguish an organization from other organizations. This meaning or mindset is based on a set of characteristics that an organization embraces as its values, norms, beliefs, behaviours and artefacts.
A company’s culture is its set of beliefs, traditions, and behavioural norms determine “The way things are done around here”.
Jack Welch, when he was CEO of General Electric (1980 -2000), mandated that GE’s Values be equally as important as performance for everyone in the organization. He was the first corporate leader to demand performance and values from every player in the organization including himself.
“Value is a lofty and a vague word but all it really means is behaviour. Values are how a company wants their employees to act. Managers have to make sure that everyone in the company knows the values. They have to demonstrate the values themselves and lavishly praise and reward them in others and basically always talk about the company values”. Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric
The leader of an organisation must enable individuals to agree and decide on a Common Goal or Purpose with Shared Behaviours or Values to achieve that goal.
The authors of the Power of Teamwork (Scott Beare and Michael McMillan), inspired by The Blue Angels, write:
“When people come together as a team, share a dream/purpose and focus on reaching their goals together, nothing will hold them back. When the team comes first, personal recognition, interpersonal concerns, relationships, and any number of internal and external issues that can challenge a team’s cohesiveness, are put in proper perspective.
Successful teamwork starts at the top with qualified leaders who provide strategic vision and establish team goals and priorities. Leaders must understand group dynamics; remain open-minded and always be aware of the team’s pulse. Ultimately, leaders must take full responsibility for keeping the team focused and for accomplishing the team’s stated objectives.
Teamwork requires training, practice and trust and each member must count on one another to perform. Synergy is a phenomenon where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. To create positive synergy, teams must have the right people in the right places – all focused on achieving a common goal/serving a common purpose.
A successful team adheres to shared values to guide the team and help them stay on course. Shared values serve to build an effective team, establish its culture, conduct, rules and policies.
The key is having positive values that each individual embraces, lives by and shares with every member on the team. Team values build a sense of unity and establish a bond among team members that can’t be broken. Even in the most difficult times, team values must align with its purpose, mission and actions.
The Leadership Team must be patient and persistent in striving to craft their statement of Purpose and Values. In knowing how to satisfy the needs of clients, staff and shareholders the roots of your core values can be established.