Word of the Year? Culture.

Multi-Cultural Office Staff Sitting Having Meeting TogetherThis past week, Merriam-Webster selected their word of the year for 2014. The word is “culture.”

Of more than 100 million queries on their website each month and a similar number on the company’s app, “culture” enjoyed a 15 percent increase this year over 2013.

There is little question that interest in culture – particularly workplace culture – has been on the rise for the last 5-10 years. I’m hoping that your interest in workplace culture is what lead you to this blog and podcast.

Culture matters. Culture drives everything that happens in organizations, good or bad. The reality, though, is that most leaders have little experience with culture creation or culture change. They’ve rarely seen successful culture change, much less led one!

Many studies have demonstrated how organizational culture affects employee engagement – for better or worse. TINYhr’s 2014 employee engagement report identifies vital trends that impact today’s workplace. Their findings are not pretty!

TINYhr surveyed over 200,000 employees from more than 500 organizations. Among the “lowlights” they found:

  • 64% of all employees do not feel they have a strong work culture.
  • 49% of employees are dissatisfied with their direct boss.
  • 66% of employees do not see opportunities for professional growth.
  • Only 21% of employees feel strongly valued at work.

This is what we research geeks call “undeniable data” – it is reliable and valid. It is such a clear snapshot of unhealthy workplace cultures in many organizations that it must prompt action by leaders.

The low level of employee satisfaction and engagement revealed in this research is startling; no wonder top talent is looking for more inspiring jobs in the improving economy.

What can leaders do to reverse this trend and create a work environment that demonstrates mutual trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction, every day? By creating clear performance standards, clear values expectations, and holding everyone accountable for both – through an organizational constitution.

An organizational constitution is a formal statement that outlines your team (or department or company)’s present-day purpose (it’s reason for being), values and behaviors, strategies and goals.

Purpose sets the path for your team’s plans, decisions, and actions. Strategies and goals specify performance expectations that will be monitored and rewarded. Values and behaviors make “great team citizenship” as observable and measurable as goal standards.

Typically leaders have the greatest amount of clarification, education, and modeling to do in the values and behaviors element. Wouldn’t it be terrific if a step-by-step framework was available to guide the creation of your team’s organizational constitution – and to guide alignment to those agreements?

There is – in my latest book, The Culture Engine.

You can learn more about creating #WorkPlaceInspiration with an #OrganizationalConstitution in my free recorded webinar, hosted by Becky Robinson.

Don’t wait. Create a team foundation of great performance and great values with an organizational constitution. You’ve got everything to gain.

How healthy is your team or company’s culture? Don’t guess – get the data with my online Culture Effectiveness Assessment.

Photo © Monkey Business – Dollar Photo Club. All rights reserved.

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  • DS

    Culture is powerful. Just look at society, and you can see how culture causes people to act (Christmas anyone?). Leaders definitely set the tone, and would do everyone a favor by actively shaping culture as you prescribe.

    • David, thanks for your thoughts! The Christmas shopping culture is pretty powerful worldwide – it’s a great example of how powerful culture is.

      An inspiring workplace culture – based on dignity, trust, and respect – doesn’t happen by default. It happens only by design!

      Have a joyous holiday –



  • I bet when you titled your book The Culture Engine you had no idea it would go down in 2014 history as the most popular word, and the one to throw around if want to be heralded as precocious and insightful. Every time I hear the word culture now, your book cover gets stuck in my head.

    • I had no idea, Jane! I’m delighted the cover of #TheCultureEngine pops into your head more often now than before!



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