The strength of a company’s organizational culture ultimately determines its success.
Strategically, changing an organization’s culture takes a determined and effective leader who unselfishly puts the organization first before self. A strong culture is one which is deeply embedded in the ways a business or organization does things.
With a strong culture, employees and management understand what is required of them and they will try to act in accordance with the core values.
A company with a strong culture provides clear expectations for employees about their jobs, behavior, and dress.
There should also be a clear cut chain of command. This type of atmosphere fosters a sense of wellbeing in employees and helps them to work towards the greater good of the company. The only danger of a strong organizational culture is a concept called “group think”.
This is a term coined by Irving Janis that occurs because a group thinks so similarly that they lose the ability to become innovative and make poor decisions. In a strong culture, the organization’s core values are both intensely held and widely shared.
A key benefit of a strong culture is that there is less need for detailed policies and procedures because the “way things are done around here” is well understood and accepted. There are many great examples of organizations with strong cultures.
Indeed, organizations built on a clearly defined set of core values, consistently applied, use their strong culture as a source of competitive advantage.
A strong organizational culture works like strong social glue, which bonds members of an organization together through shared goals. This builds loyalty and commitment among the group and makes them less likely to leave their tight-knit organization.
Although organizations with strong cultures experience fewer turnovers, it doesn’t mean that a strong culture is better than a weak culture in every instance. A strong culture is difficult to change in an organization and can stifle innovation because members of the organization are used to doing their jobs exactly the same way.
A strong culture exists when employees respond to stimulus because of their alignment to organizational values. Strong cultures help firms operate like well-oiled machines cruising along with outstanding execution. Minor tweaking of existing procedures enhances performance.
In thriving, profitable companies, employees embody the values, visions and strategic priorities of their company.
A weak organizational culture is one in which employees are not clear with what their goals are. A weak culture is evident when most employees have varied opinions about the organization’s mission and values.
The company is disorganized and this requires extra efforts and time to attain maximal unity of purpose. Employees waste time spinning their wheels, because of the inability to focus on what’s important.
Weak organizational culture allows for an increase in turnover of employees because of a lack of corporate cohesiveness and mission. This spirals into low employee morale, and employee disengagement.
A key consequence of weak culture is that there is a greater need for procedures, policies, and bureaucracy, in order to get things done in the desired way, within the turn, can add substantially to organizational costs.
Weak cultures can be advantageous for organizations that benefit, from independent thought and innovation by their members. In an unstable environment, organizations with weak cultures often function better than organizations with strong cultures, because they are much more adaptable to change.
In order for an organization to succeed, the culture of that organization must fit the environment in which it operates.
Research indicates that the strongest cultures embrace the importance of Kaizen or continuous improvement. Kaizen cultures require both conscious and subconscious thinking about improvements from everyone.
Conversely, a weak culture exists when there is little alignment with organizational values and control must be exercised through extensive policies, procedures, and bureaucracy.
Signs of a weak culture include lack of trust; focus on problems, staff losing confidence in their leaders and systems, and people spending more time focusing on problems rather than opportunities.