Organisational culture: Understanding (and changing) our habits, norms and behaviours

17th March, 2021

Organisational culture is shaped through values, norms and behaviours. Organisations committed to learning, to impact and to bringing out the best in team members routinely reflect on and review their culture. It’s healthy to ‘lower the waterline’ by encouraging folks to speak their minds.

Here are a few helpful resources to help progressive social movements reflect on organisational culture.

If you’re planning to interview or survey your team, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations
offer some great questions:

  • What kind of ceremonies or celebrations do you have?
  • To what extent does the organisation allow or accept uncertainty?
  • Is an individualistic or collective approach encouraged?

The NVCO site references a typology developed by Harrison Trice and Janice Beyer that describes four different types of culture: power culture, role culture, task culture and personal culture.

Mikaela Kiner at The Muse offer 15 questions you might ask in an interview so you have a solid understanding whether the organisation is right for you. These questions are well designed and cut to the chase.

  • Is risk-taking encouraged, and what happens when people fail?
  • How are decisions made when there‚Äôs disagreement and stakes are high?
  • When and how do people like to give and receive feedback?
  • Titles aside, who in the organization has the power to gets things done?

Matthew Corritore, Amir Goldberg and Sameer Srivastava share their thoughts on ‘The New Analytics of Culture’ in Harvard Business Review. They’ve developed a method to assess and measure organisational culture and how culture influences thoughts and behaviour at work. They offer an interesting take on ‘cultural fit’. We often hire and choose to work with people who rapidly learn and confirm to organisational culture and norms. But “people who see the world differently and have diverse ideas and perspectives often bring creativity and innovation to an organization.”

Finally, QuestionPro argue that it’s “pivotal for an organization to understand what its employees think about their culture, whether they relate to it or not, and what can be improved to make the organization a better place to work.” They share 20 questions you might include in a team survey to better understand your organisation’s culture. Many of the questions invite yes/now responses, but they could be re-worked to generate qualitative responses and dig deeper.

Search ‘culture on tCA’s website for more.