Work Culture and how it creeps in

Being involved in an organisational climate survey in my day job brought about a realisation on how many of us carry the baggage of various cultural beliefs into work. Whilst most self-development books and managers’ guides tell us to operate, in what’s possibly two silos—a personal self & a professional self—in reality that’s a tough call. Tough because we are governed, a lot, by our emotions. And our emotions come about due to the habits we have. Habits, in turn, are behaviours that we project every minute of the day.


Work culture is a collection of beliefs and the resulting behaviour from it. The beliefs bring about certain behaviour which impacts on the work and the process of its execution become, therefore, the culture.

Overtime, this set of behaviours is either repeated daily or regularly and with passage of time, becomes the unwritten norm for the organisation in terms of:

  • Interaction within colleagues
  • External interaction
  • And finally represents itself as the character of the organisation, represented through its staff

Organisationally, whilst we have SOP’s for specific processes of functions, and detailed job performance evaluations and job descriptions, what we don’t quite have as yet is a SOP for how a work culture can be instituted.

This is on the ‘soft side’ of professional development and many change management programs do not cover this, as metrics are hard to have. Yet this can be done, if an organisations’ leadership is willing to roll up its sleeve and make a few hard calls.

At this point, dear reader, you may be questioning why is work culture so important?

It’s important, because it’s the work culture and the underlying behaviour (of that culture) that allows you to know if specific changes can be brought about successfully. To bring about a change in an existing work culture is a long-term project. It needs HR specialists to identify specific leadership behaviours and work group climates that aid the organisation.

Finally, in the change management program, specific behavioural changes need to be incorporated and the executives trained on doing their processes in a different way. Whilst training is one thing, enforcement or ensuring that they utilise the new methodology (of doing the process) is another. But only through continuous enforcement of a new methodology will habits change.

When habits change, behaviours are affected. With behavioural change a work culture change can be brought about.