Yes, most important. Culture is either directed or it slowly emerges, but it is the essence of an organisation because it influences and represents 5 key things, the organisation's:
2. GOALS and aspirations
3. DIRECTION and DEVELOPMENT
4. FOCUS and PRIORITIES
5. Acceptable (or Appropriate) BEHAVIOUR
Culture emanates from the top of the organisation, from the owners and senior management, downwards to the rest of the staff. But it is then diffused or enhanced according to departmental priorities. It might have different characteristics according to its covert and overt form, but it will always represent the vision at the top. Hence why it is extremely important to the priorities of that establishment, its general focus and for what it values.
Culture is promoted and preserved through the kind of staff that is recruited, the objectives that are set and the behaviour, both unwritten and overt, that is encouraged and regarded as 'appropriate'. Culture moulds the organisation, keeps it together and directs its future.
The clearest example is that of the military culture of hierarchy and deference, one which is seen as essential to moulding the men and women under command into a certain type - people who can react under pressure and protect each other. There is no room for dissenters, individuality and independence. The focus and emphasis are on interdependence and The Team. If one is not a good team player and does not like taking orders, that would be the wrong culture and place for him/her.
That is why it is so important that one gauges the culture of an organisation before joining it, to ensure it aligns with his/her own personal values and goals, and the direction he/she wishes to take. That is usually embedded in its mission statement, in the words that are carefully chosen to describe its aims and purpose. There is nothing worse for the emotional health of an individual than to be stuck in a job which carries a different culture to that which would be preferred, because the cultural values will be at odds with her/his own - a very uncomfortable place to be.
Furthermore, an unhappy person cannot be a successful one. A person who does not share the values and objectives of an organisation cannot possibly perform to his/her best to help that company promote and achieve them. There would be too much frustration and self doubt. Hence why a lot of organisations are underachieving or end up going to the wall, because often there are too many workers who do not share their culture and so quietly sabotage it. The most successful companies have people who not only share but promote their chosen culture.
©Elaine Sihera (Ms CYPRAH) 2011
Emotional Health and People Management Consultant
"Respect and love begin with the self. If we have none, how can we give away any?"