New for 2016 – Organizational Micro-Cultures

It’s actually not new, it’s been around since Culture, we just kind of ignored it.

It’s similar in concept to Micro and Macro Economics.  Big and Little.  In terms of culture, it’s the main reason changing your overall company culture is so hard. You don’t just have one company culture, you actually have tens, hundreds, thousands of cultures, that make up your big over culture.

The problem we are having advancing our company culture is we keep doing it top-down. Get the guy with gray hair, or the lady with the navy blue pant suit, to tell us his/her vision and we’ll shove that culture down everyone’s’ throat and tell them what our culture is now.

Obviously, this doesn’t work, but we don’t know of another way, so let’s keep trying, it will work eventually, right?

Take all these functions, divisions, departments, regions, subsidiaries, locations, mergers and acquisitions, etc. and let’s tell them what their culture will be now. Until we have new leadership, than we’ll just do this all over again.

The reality is you don’t have ‘a’ culture. You have many cultures. HR has a different culture than IT. Albuquerque has a different culture than New York. Manufacturing has a different culture than Sales.

These microcultures added up, make your company culture.  It’s not top-down, it’s bottom-up.

So, what can we do?

You need to get down to the lowest level of leadership that you can. The frontline leaders of your organization are the ones creating your organization’s microcultures.  These are the people ultimately responsible for your overall organization’s culture. Your CEO is a puppet to this process.

To influence these microcultures you need to start planting seeds at the frontline leader level. Don’t worry about even driving this down from the top. Skip the C-suite, skip the SVPs, skip the VPs, skip the Directors, skip the managers, go right to the supervisors. You know the folks, the ones doing the work. The ones who have 8-15 direct reports they see everyday, talk with everyday, work side by side, everyday.

The builders of culture in your organization are not executives and they are not HR.  Executives and HR are framers. The builders are your frontline leaders. 90% of your time and resources spent on building culture need to be spent at this frontline level.

It’s not easy. When you get down at that level, you’ll see what your organization is really about. Most of your executives will disagree with what they see, and not believe this is your actual culture.  That is very typical of most organizations. Executives and HR are the worse at creating and judging culture, because they’ve drink the koolaid.

Influence culture from the bottom, not the top.

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