Most business people are aware that the culture of an organisation has a direct and significant impact on performance and productivity.

What is organisation culture?

At its most simple, it is the collection of beliefs and values held and promulgated by the senior members of an organisation via their policies, decisions and behaviours.   This in turn drives the behaviours of lower level staff  and the relationships with clients or customers.

Lip service is often paid to the importance, or even existence, of culture.

How many organisations, for example, have a slogan saying something like “Our people are our greatest asset”?  If this was a firmly held value, we would expect to see it show through in relationships between managers and workers, in HR policies and procedure, in communication methods, and so on.

Yet quite lot of organisations that profess to hold this belief in the value of their people, do not establish an appropriate culture, treating their employees as ‘Human Resources’ to be manipulated and coerced into performing for the organisation.

Go back to the definition of culture.  Clearly the senior executived set the culture and it is then delivered down the management chain.  The key link in the culture chain is thus the relationship between managers and subordinates.

Do all managers get training in the creation and maintenance of a supportive culture?  Most probably do – but they can only deliver  when the overarching culture of the organisation, set by the senior team, is itself supportive.

We need a whole organisation culture within which each manager can take a narrow view of his/her own part in the culture chain working through each personal relationship.