Cultural debility can set a business adrift. Culture as an invisible co-pilot, can navigate a business to achieve its greatest heights, or steer it to a rocky demise. By the time the signs of cultural debility are evident, considerable damage may have been wrought by the sources of the debility.
So, what is cultural debility? It’s the resulting state of affairs when the productive functioning of a business is subverted by its culture that either has become, or is becoming, toxic. Basically, it’s when culture begins to poison the business.
The good news is that a business in this state of affairs can take action to remediate this particular malady through either curative, or preventative means. Let’s take a look at some curative and preventative deployments.
Culture as an invisible co-pilot, can navigate a business to achieve its greatest heights, or steer it to a rocky demise.
One of the telltale signs of debility is a multiplicity of cross-cultural collisions caused by the existence of discrete cultures across a business. While there should be a single culture that runs across the business, a common occurrence is every department having its own culture, built around the norms and habits that are germane to the employee community in the department.
I have found that this scenario has become normative. Often, businesses do absolutely nothing about it. Well, except gripe about how problematic it is, followed by more inaction. I’m not certain about whether the inertia is due to leaders not knowing how to attack the problem, or due to lack of motivation to attack it, because the business may not have descended into complete chaos, just yet. After all, if there is an acceptable level of functionality, then there is no urgency to remediate.
Remediating this situation calls firstly, for leaders being willing to reject the notion that multiple cultures in a business should be tolerated. There should be enough disquietude about their existence to call the situation out as a creeping malaise, that has the capacity to immobilize the smooth functioning of the business.
Remediating this situation calls firstly, for leaders being willing to reject the notion that multiple cultures in a business should be tolerated.
Secondly, the situation calls for action to be taken to reverse the polarities that exist. Taking the time to determine the “best fit” culture for the business as it approaches the headwinds of the future, will anchor the new culture vision and allow the business to work on recalibrating the existing cultural discordance.
Thirdly, the new culture has to be infused across the business in a systematic way, so that it supplants the existing inconsistencies efficaciously and resets the new “normal” that will support future evolution.
Finally, nothing will change unless action is taken to change the status quo.
Now, there are those businesses that are fortunate enough to not suffer from cultural debility. So, what’s important is to take steps to sustain this favoured state.
Nothing will change unless action is taken to change the status quo.
It’s important to make peace with the fact that diversity characterizes every employee community. While there will be potential for discord and collision, equal effort should be dedicated to creating like-mindedness and harmony. Pretty much as in the preceding approach, nothing changes without action and in particular, intentional action.
The intention here is to prevent the rise of (extreme) multiculturalism. This is not to say that departments within a business should not claim their uniqueness. In fact, uniqueness that is anchored in a healthy enterprise-wide culture, creates the opportunity for employees to explore different departments, in the quest to align their hearts and minds, with the right departmental energies. Without toxic overlays.
Prevention of cultural debility occurs when leaders denounce the practice of promoting self-professed, leadership supremacy. Instead, these leaders demonstrate professional maturity and personal humility, archetypal traits that should be resident at the top of business hierarchies.
Another preventative method is onboarding change management as a continuous process and not solely as a strategy that is triggered by a situational stimulus. Change is encouraged and supported intentionally, through programs and activities that allow the business to keep itself under the microscope continually.
Prevention of cultural debility occurs when leaders denounce the practice of promoting self-professed, leadership supremacy.
Prevention can be supported by norming a pretty simple action. That of honouring small contracts, for example……keeping one’s word.
Maybe I am too much of an optimist, but I believe that when there is a pull on the humanitarian spirit, it’s hard for many of us to ignore the call.
Honouring of small contracts goes beyond a business mandate and entreats us to put the goodwill that is intrinsic to our nature, on show. We feel inspired to step up to the expectation.
After all, when many of us know that we are expected to succeed, there’s the added motivation to not fail.