I've been thinking lately about the interplay between a company's values and its culture so here's where my thinking is at.
Values are what your company holds to be important and are also guidelines for how your company hopes you behave with colleagues and customers. So they are close to the strategy of a business. Whereas culture is what actually happens. So it is much more operational and day-to-day.
If it's true that 'culture eats strategy for breakfast' then 'values' are the orange juice - nice to have, makes us feel good, but is dealt with fairly quickly so we can get onto the good stuff!
One thing values and culture have in common is that they are both exposed. Ask a new entrant to your business the following -
What have you noticed since joining us?
What would you say are our priorities?
What have you noticed about how we treat each other and our clients?
Perhaps we are about to witness a reverse in the interplay between values and culture. If your people have had a fundamental shift in their values as a result of the pandemic? Then maybe for the first time values are going to eat culture!
New Forest Path
In your return to work please resist the urge to control or contrive a new culture within your business. If you are really brave you could wait for a couple of months and just notice what happens naturally and organically. A new culture will appear like a new path through a forest.
If culture is the 'way we do things round here' then there will always be a culture. So if you do nothing you are not risking that there'll be no culture. Your challenge will be to shape it later but not to contrive it at the outset. The new path might just need some small adjustments and improvements.
We don't know yet how our psychology is going to be different as a result of the quiet trauma we've all been subjected to (see my earlier blog on this) so how can we know the 'best culture' at the outset?
There'll be more on this another time and as usual, I will welcome your thoughts, comments and education on this topic.