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On cultural profiles and other organizational demons (Part I)

In 1992, James Carville coined the famous – or rather infamous – phrase:

It’s the economy, stupid.

Several decades on, it is still used in many political debates on TV or in heated conversations about politics at family dinners, when someone wants to make a point: economy is essential when you talk about politics, as most policies involve spending money. Whether it’s the right point, this is an entirely different question…

Paraphrasing Carville’s catchphrase, we might say that when it comes to companies and organization,

It’s the culture, stupid.

Granted, it’s culture, among many other things, but culture is the dynamo that puts everything in motion: people, ideas, strategies, and vision.

In “The Leader’s Guide to Corporate Culture”, authors address the cultural factor in an organization, by analyzing two key points: people interactions (cultures that prefer autonomy, individual action, and competition vs. cultures that place greater value on integration, coordination, and group effort) and response to change (cultures that favor stability, predictability, and current status quo vs culture that emphasize for flexibility, adaptability, and responsiveness to change).

Taking all these attributes into account, the authors of the study identified eight cultural profiles that can be found across all business environments. And we might add, identifying the cultural profile of a given organization is essential for designing adequate learning and development programs.

The first 4 cultural profiles

As we all know, “one size fits all” doesn’t work all that well in education and professional development.

Let’s see the first four profiles and the most suitable learning programs for each of them:

  1. A caring culture

    A caring culture puts relationships and mutual trust first.

    Work environments are people-oriented, collaborative, and people are encouraged to work together as a team. Employees are united by loyalty for the company and the team. Leadership promotes values such as sincerity, teamwork, and positive relationships.

    In such an environment, learning should be integrated as a group development activity, not as a personal plan. Therefore, people will be more motivated and will have better results if they learn with their peers and they feel that they can grow together as a group.

    Schedule face to face or online group learning sessions and let employees collaborate and work together. Newcomers should be integrated into the teams and learn “on the job” instead of attending training sessions isolated from their future colleagues. Blended approaches should be taken into account when “on the job” learning is not the only option available.

    Read more: Exploring the onboarding process

  2. A culture built around purpose

    A culture built around purpose is exemplified by idealism and altruism.

    Work environments are tolerant, people are compassionate, and they strive to do good for the long-term future of the world. Employees share sustainability and global communities as common values; leaders focus the shared ideals of the company and its contribution to a greater cause.

    In such an environment, learning programs should be consistent with the core values that people share. For instance, if you are in the business of organic cosmetics, a workshop on artificial additives will not be well received by employees.

    Make sure that learning programs will be built around the greater cause of the company and people will be motivated to learn.

  3. A culture of learning

    A culture of learning is characterized by exploration, expansiveness, and creativity.

    Work environments encourage innovation, new ideas and “outside the box” approaches for solving problems. Curiosity is the name of the game for employees; leaders focus on innovation, knowledge, and adventure.

    It goes without saying that in a learning environment, learning programs are indispensable. However, given the cultural profile of the organization, perhaps learning should be approached as an ongoing process, instead of a punctual moment at a given time.

    Create blended programs across teams to stimulate them to come with new ideas and tackle problems from different angles. Use online platforms in all learning programs to deliver context on a wide range of devices and make sure that there is enough flexibility so that people can come up with their learning journeys.

    Read more: 3 Steps towards a continuous learning culture

  4. A culture of enjoyment

    A culture of enjoyment is expressed through fun and excitement.

    Work environments are nice places where people can do what makes them happy. Employees are united by a sense of playfulness and stimulation. We work and we have fun doing it is the name of the game. Leaders emphasize spontaneity and a sense of humor, and this is what learning programs should do as well.

    Use non-formal approaches and deliver content in a funny, engaging manner. Adapt to the general work environment, forget about “traditional” or “classical” approaches and you will have good results in an enjoyable organization.

Stay tuned!

To sum up, know thy self, know thy culture and you will become more knowledgeable!

Stay tuned! Next time we’ll explore the other four cultural profiles!

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