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What Is Culture?

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Businesswoman leading meeting in startup office
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Definition:

Want a solid definition of what employees are talking about when they discuss your workplace culture? Culture is the work environment that you supply for employees. Employees are motivated and most satisfied when their needs and values are consistent with those manifested in your workplace culture.

From the initial application until an employee is hired, both the employer and the prospective employee attempt to determine if the applicant is a good cultural fit. Culture is difficult to define, but you generally know when you have found an employee who appears to fit your culture.

Culture is the environment in which you work all of the time. Culture is a powerful element that shapes your work enjoyment, your work relationships, and your work processes. But, culture is something that you cannot actually see, except through its physical manifestations in your work place.

While a particular culture exists in your organization that has been developed by the employees who work in your company, each new employee adds their diversity to your work culture. So, while a culture exists when a new employee joins, he or she is soon adding to the culture experienced by employees at work.

What Makes Up Your Culture?

Culture is like personality. In a person, the personality is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, interests, experiences, upbringing, and habits that create a person's behavior.

Culture is made up of the values, beliefs, underlying assumptions, attitudes, and behaviors shared by a group of people. Culture is the behavior that results when a group arrives at a set of - generally unspoken and unwritten - rules for working together.

Your culture is made up of all of the life experiences that each employee brings to the workplace. Culture is particularly influenced by the organization's founder, executives, and other managerial staff because of their role in decision making and strategic direction.

How Do You See Culture

The visual and verbal components of an organization's culture are noticeable every day at work. Whether you are walking through a work area, sitting in an office, attending a meeting, or eating in the lunchroom, the organization's culture surrounds you and permeates your working life.

Culture is represented in your group's:

  • language,
  • decision making,
  • symbols,
  • stories and legends, and
  • daily work practices.

Something as simple as the objects chosen to grace a desk tell you a lot about how employees view and participate in your organization’s culture. Your bulletin board content, the company newsletter, the interaction of employees in meetings, and the way in which people collaborate, speak volumes about your organizational culture.

You can take a culture walk to see, appreciate, and observe your organization's current culture. You can also change your organization's culture. If the culture that has developed is unsupportive of reaching your business goals or of the environment you want to provide employees, culture change is a tough, but achievable option.

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