Workplace culture is one of those things that is oft talked about, rarely fully understood. Culture does not reside in a poster on the wall, the launch of a new set of corporate values, or an employee handbook. Culture is not what we put on a piece of paper, it’s what we say and do, the accepted norms of the group we belong to.
Workplace culture is most evident in the seemingly unimportant rituals that send an unspoken message about what we really value. Publicly announcing and celebrating a work-iversary shows that tenure is valued. Hitting the gong for big deals shows that sales and revenue generation are valued. An annual team charity work day shows that community is valued. ‘Staff of children’ Christmas parties show that your family and life outside of work is valued. These are all norms of groups that I have belonged to in the past, the rituals that send a message to those new to the group about what is valued by that group, and therefore, the culture of that group.
One of the interesting reads in my inbox this morning was an article proposing that rituals can be designed to strengthen culture. So obvious, and yet so often overlooked when trying to figure out how to change a culture for the better. If workplace culture is on your thinking list, give it a read, and then consider; what are your unspoken rituals, and what message are they sending?