Organizational culture matters more than where you live. And blaming ‘national’ characteristics for poor behaviour is just lazy.
That first morning
One of the great things about facilitating workshops across many countries & regions is that you get to see a lot of organizational culture up close and personal.
Whether in Kuala Lumpur, Colombo or Frankfurt, the first morning of a scheduled workshop session is always interesting.
- Will all the Participants turn up? Will they turn up on time?
- Will Management turn up? If so, who – and how long will they stay?
- Does Management all sit together? Or do they integrate into the group at large?
- What does the energy feel like before the session begins?
- Do Participants talk to each other or do they stare at their mobile phones?
- How does management speak to staff? As adults? Or like children?
What I see on that first morning of a session – before introductions have been made – should be the ‘best’ in organizational culture.
Why? Because it’s not work.
Participants are there to learn and grow.
And because the gap or opportunity is so significant, an external Provider was asked to come in.
On a recent drizzly morning in _____________ (fill in the country).
On a recent drizzly morning session in ________(fill in the country), half the Participants had not arrived by starting time.
The HR Representative leaned over to me and said –
“Well you know we _________(fill in nationality here) like to sleep in.”
“We’re always late in ______(fill in country)” or “When it rains you know how it is in ______(fill in country).”
But over the years I’ve been conducting sessions, I find that what matters most is where you work – not where you live.
Organizational culture matters most
In countries which are notorious for staff absenteeism and tardiness, I’ve worked with organizations where people aren’t late.
In countries with a reputation for staff timidity, I’ve worked with organizations where the folks laugh and chat and catch up with each other.
In countries where a traditional management hierarchy is revered, I’ve worked with organizations where management and staff intermingle and sit together.
Great organizational culture always matters the most.
The way the Employees at Company X carry themselves can be quite different than the way Employees at Company Y carry themselves.
Even when their offices are in the same office building.
Blaming poor behavior on country or national dynamics is just lazy
Of course, there are wonderful examples of national culture that embody happiness, wellbeing and getting things done. An entire article could be devoted to these examples.
It’s not my style to be negative.
But when HR or management blames poor behavior on country or national dynamics – then it’s unlikely that you’ll see a great culture at that particular organization.
The happenstance of being born in Country X doesn’t guarantee a worklife of tardiness, timidity or futility.
Individuals always have a choice.
A choice to be on time, a choice to speak up and even a choice to find employment with an organization with a better culture.
Thank you for reading!