Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Is Your Organization’s Culture Remarkable or Toxic?

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My wife Tammy and I eat out a lot. You can learn many things about an organization’s culture by eating at one of their restaurants. You can learn whether the organization is remarkable or toxic.
For example, when I eat out, I notice the condition of the facility – is it in good repair and clean, especially the restrooms. I pay attention to the attitude, friendliness and service provided by those that seat us and serve us. Do they take pride in providing an outstanding customer experience for us, or do they act like they really don’t want to be there, and are just going through the motions? If we ask for something, do we get a response of “No problem”, or “No worries”, or do we hear “My pleasure”?
Remarkable organizational cultures are principle driven and are known for going above and beyond in the delivery of their products and services.  On the other hand, toxic cultures are known for poor service and poor performance.

Remarkable organizational cultures are principle driven, while toxic organizational cultures are managed by bosses enforcing rules. Dee Ann Turner tells us that organizations should require and enforce rules when absolutely necessary, but when judgement can be exercised, they should allow for the application of principles.  Organizations with remarkable cultures are led by effective servant leaders, while toxic organizational cultures are managed by bad bosses.
Most organizations strive to be remarkable, but few actually attain it. Perhaps you’ve worked at an organization in which there was an emphasis on providing a remarkable customer experience. Was the emphasis successful? Why or why not? Was it a short-term emphasis, or did this become part of your organizational culture?
What are some of the elements of a remarkable organization? Dee Ann Turner gives us some helpful thoughts about this in her book Bet on Talent: How to Create a Remarkable Culture That Wins the Hearts of Customers.
Turner, first of all, tells us that strong and healthy organizational cultures don’t just happen. Rather, creating a remarkable culture requires intentionality and vision from an individual or group of individuals who share a common vision for the future.
Turner shares many elements of a remarkable organizational culture. I want to share just a few of them with you:

  1. Remarkable organizational cultures have:
  • A clear and meaningful purpose for existing. That is their Why. Why are they in business?
  • A challenging mission. That is their What. What are they in business to do?
  • Core values, which are the fundamental beliefs that inform decisions, actions, and behaviors. These are the most important attributes that members of remarkable organizations can remember and strive to live out day to day.
  • Guiding principles that provide clarity and focus because everyone in the organization understands what they do, why they do it, and how they do it.
  1. Remarkable organizational cultures are created by selecting extraordinary talent. Turner writes that people decisions are the most important decisions a leader makes. That is their Who. Each hire, or selection of talent, needs to match the culture and organizational goals. Turner recommends considering the character, competency and chemistry of each potential team member.
  2. Remarkable organizational cultures demonstrate a commitment to servant leadership. Servant leadership means that leaders put others before themselves. They not only lead, but they serve those they lead. This model permeates the entire organization as everyone strives to put the needs of others above their own needs or wants.

Throughout her book, Turner shares the importance of many other aspects or a remarkable organizational culture, such as truth-telling, mentoring and leadership development. When all of these elements are in place, and led by servant leaders, an organization can be successful and have an enduring impact on individuals, communities and beyond.

So, what kind of organizational culture do you work in? Is it remarkable, or toxic?

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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