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Hybrid working: skills for leadership
Hybrid working: skills for leadership

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1.4 Understanding your organisational culture

A key question before moving towards hybrid adoption is to start looking at what your current culture is and whether it supports a hybrid environment.

Attempting to define culture

What is culture? Well, every organisation has one and ideally, according to Dyer and Shepherd (2021), the culture you have is something that you designed, created and developed. However, often culture ‘just happens’. They compare culture to a garden, in that if you look after it then it will grow but if you don’t then it can become a ‘lifeless patch of dying weeds or an uncontrolled infestation of poison ivy’.

Have you ever asked a colleague what they think culture means? Or searched for a definition of it online? If you do, you will get roughly 4,720,000,000 (as of May 2022) different possible results. Some people believe an organisation’s culture is how employees feel. Others think it is ‘Lunch is free and every Thursday we drink beers’ (Vollebregt, 2021). This is not really organisational culture; it could be part of your culture, but it is not the only thing that defines it.

There have also been many academic definitions, for example Balogun and Johnson’s’ ‘the way we do things around here’, or Denison’s ‘the underlying values, beliefs and principles that serve as the foundation for an organisations management system’. It is a combination of conscious and unconscious values and the actions of your organisation. Mix them together and you get a certain feel and a culture.

To others, culture is a feeling (Dyer and Shepherd ,2021, p. 21). The takeaway here is that there is no right or wrong answer as to what culture is or isn’t, or should and shouldn’t be. In the following quote, Jon Katezenbach, founder of the Katzenbach Center and author of The Critical Few, summarises it well:

No culture is all good or all bad. Every culture has emotional energy within it that can be leveraged.

(strategy&, 2018)