Every Employee Should See Himself As The Chief Culture Officer is an absolutely brilliant article by Abhijit Bhaduri that touches on how the culture of a company is defined by its employees. A business’ corporate culture is defined by its leadership team starting with the CEO, according to Mr. Bahaduri, Chief Learning Officer of Wipro.
Very often employees’ behavior mimics that of their bosses. So what is culture? Quite simply, the culture of a company is just an invisible set of norms that guides the behavior of everyone in the team. These norms are so ingrained into everyday behavior that very often the employees don’t realize that they have blindly accepted it.
“Actions get performed for their symbolic value and become well-established rituals like rewarding someone for their years of service to the company,” according to Mr. Bahaduri. Problems arise when said behavior is detrimental to the functioning of the organization.
To brand new employees, the culture becomes very obvious starting from the first day of work as they are not used to it. They see how the company operates with fresh eyes. What was first seen as ‘strange’ is very soon accepted as ‘normal’ after several weeks on the job.
So how can we positively enhance the culture? Mr. Bahaduri suggests that the opinions of new hires should be taken into account as their opinions are invaluable. The earlier the better. “This is a precious gift that you can use to decide if there are some parts of the culture that need to be tweaked,” he says. Change is never easy but getting an early start may work in your favor.
That said, no chief culture officer can influence daily choices that employees make while at work. Therefore it’s imperative that every employee, especially long-time workers, see themselves as the chief culture officer. AND it is only the new employees who can point out dysfunctional elements of culture.
John Burke, Chief Culture Officer of Google, was specifically hired to champion the search engine’s approach to ethics, environmental sustainability, community relations and diversity, and inclusion. Perhaps, the time has come for every company to include such a role.