Peter Drucker, the guru of organizational development consulting, was quoted as saying that “culture eats strategy for lunch.”
Company “culture” is defined as “how people within an organizational environment communicate and behave based on real or perceived values, beliefs, and rules (both written and unwritten).”
There are two types of company cultures:
- A “compliance” culture, or
- A “commitment” culture.
A very autocratic leader is often at the helm of a “compliance culture.”
This leader is highly demanding, often requiring unrealistic performance expectations.
The “compliance culture” leader communicates in a way that does not permit discussion on ideas different from his or hers.
In a “compliance culture” team members are required to “comply” with the desires, demands and whims of the leader.
Team members learn early it’s best not to make decisions because mistakes are not tolerated.
Team members exist in survival mode, focusing on just fulfilling minimal work requirements and rarely help teammates, while the “command and control” leader preaches teamwork ad-nauseam.
A “compliance culture” creates a very stressful, “CYA” environment with a lot of passive-aggressive behavior.
In this environment company leaders to have to work harder to move the company strategy forward, often failing miserably as the culture of compliance eats away at potential progress.
Conversely, working in a “commitment culture” is like working on a “championship” athletic team.
Everyone on the team knows their individual role in helping the company achieve its strategic goals.
The leaders’ open and collaborative communication style fosters an environment of enthusiastic contribution to help the company get where it is going. Team members’ efforts often go above and beyond expectations.
Ideas are encouraged and nurtured for further development.
Leaders see failures and mistakes as learning experiences, not something to punish.
Sometimes understanding the difference between “compliance” and “commitment” cultures can be challenging.
Last week I learned this the hard way.
I was working with an organization in a highly regulated industry, the healthcare field.
When I broached this topic company leaders struggled to understand why a compliance culture may not be most desirable.
They argued that because their industry required compliance with a multitude of health regulations, they needed a compliance culture to make the system work.
Initially, I struggled to explain the difference.
Then, it hit me!
A compliance culture doesn’t refer to the type of work that is done, it refers to the way people are led and how they are communicated with.
It is very possible to have a commitment culture in a compliance heavy industry.
There are always things that people in a work environment must “comply” with to fulfill job requirements, things like punctuality for meeting workday requirements, or fulfilling deadlines.
It works in athletics and it can work in business, too.
Winning a championship in sports requires athletes on a team to “comply” with the rules and laws of the team framework (coming to practice on-time, etc.) and the rules of the game they play.
They do so happily because the “commitment culture,” has everyone focused on winning so they “comply” with what the team leadership has set as guidelines for success.
Team leadership also provides opportunity for the athletes to use their unique creative talents to get the job done in the field of play.
It should be the same in business.
Is it, in yours?