Workplace Culture – what makes your organisation tick?

You can learn a lot about a group of people by looking at the little things they create … small stuff tells big stories.V tick avatar - orange

In the course of my work, both in my previous leadership roles and now as a Workplace Behaviour / Executive Coach, I get to experience many different company cultures. In order to be as effective as possible, it’s critical to understand what’s important to the organizations I’m collaborating with.

To that end, I’ve adapted Professor Edgar Schein’s three-tiered model of organizational culture. For Schein, the organizational culture happens at three levels:

  1. Artifacts found around the workplace, from your dress code to your furniture
  2. Your Espoused Values—the intangibles your organization publicly declares as important, from strategy to personal behaviors
  3. A set of Basic Assumptions which drive fundamental decision-making at a deep, even unconscious level

All three can be used to describe any company culture. While values and assumptions can sometimes be fuzzy, the tangible stuff [objects, products, physical surroundings] are relatively easy to spot and read, and can reveal a lot of cultural secrets. Being a visual person, I’m always on the lookout for a tasty cultural item … it’s kind of fun.

When speaking with business leaders about workplace culture, I talk about the VERVE … the energy, spirit, vitality in their organisation … and this is what our workplace culture model is based on:

VERVE_-_workplace_culture_modelWhen we understand what makes a culture hum, we can focus our energy to build on the valuable stuff , diminish that which drag us down, and consciously design an organisation that connects and contributes to successful business goals; … energetic and creative teams, focused on innovation, flexibility and a real sense of empowerment and ownership of outcomes.

Focus on organisational culture is imperiative in today’s business climate … where downsizing, mergers and aquisitions often produce cultures of  uncertainty and distrust; … where businesses need to continually evolve to meet expectations of ‘new consumers’ and old ways of responding no longer work; … where global competitiveness means companies must address any strong internal resistance to change. Successful organisations need to:

  • Recognise change as a constant … a ‘way of life’ … embrace it
  • Encourage new and ‘outside-the-box’ ideas from their people
  • Involve their people in change processes … every step … with sufficient led-up time before major change events.

This takes the right workplace culture … the right people in the right roles, and more importantly doing the right stuff in the right way … attracting, developing and retaining the right people.

What does the culture VERVE in your organisation tell you?

There is nothing like an ‘outsider’s view’ to provide you with an unbiased reality check. If you’d like us to take a look at your workplace … chat to a few key people to get a feel for ‘what’s really going on’ … and develop targeted program solutions for you to consider implementing … contact us.

We love helping organisations increase their VITALITY  … turning them into buzzing, energetic environments … a place where people love coming to.


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