Culture is the Uniform - What if the Uniform is too Tight? Velma Deleveaux, PhD

Culture is the uniform, and the uniform is too tight. “Culture eats strategy for lunch.” That phrase, although possibly overused can never deteriorate in value and accuracy. Culture is what makes a company — its employees, its value, its mission are all motivated by one guiding light — culture.

We are in conversation with Velma Deleveaux, who unravels one of the causes of 2021’s Great Resignation and its affiliation to employees’ dissatisfaction with company culture.

Our corporate uniform is defined by culture. How are uniform and culture integrated? What if the uniform is too tight? How can we link this to the current Great Resignation?

“There is one simple reason that the Great Resignation is sweeping across the world in 2021. The pandemic, like every other major crisis, simply accelerated what was already building up. When people resign, they don’t just quit a job, they quit a culture. Or rather, they quit a workplace culture that doesn’t fit them. Retention of employees is about addressing underlying issues of the entire system — and that begins with examining the culture. Working from home gave people an opportunity to identify what is important to them, what values they hold close, and what they expect to gain from their workplace in terms of culture. Now that we are going back into the workplace, employees can clearly see the flaws in company cultures — and they are no longer willing to settle.

“In my opinion, the culture is the uniform. Now, employees are choosing to find and put on another uniform. They are willing to seek out cultures that fit them, and if they can’t, they create the culture they desire themselves. It’s a paradigm shift — it’s no longer “will I fit the culture?” It’s “will the culture fit me?”

“Culture in itself encompasses a lot of elements. How do people get things done? How do people work together? How do employees treat and value each other? Culture is about how they respond if they disagree with one another? Culture can often be nuanced, it’s the unwritten rules that people abide by. For example, are the “corporate core values” really creating the right work environment? Does our behavior line up with the stated values and are they right ones? How do we reward affirmations?. Who gets promoted? Who gets affirmed? The same holds for punishment — who and how do people get reprimanded when they make a mistake? There is really much to consider when we speak of an organization’s culture. Culture reflects the unwritten rules and nuanced behaviours and actions of employees. Often there is a dissonance between the written value and mission of a company, and the norms that are actually followed. This dissonance leaves people further dissatisfied, because they are not getting what they originally signed up for.

“2021 has brought about a new revolution. Gone are the days where people are altering themselves to fit into a culture. They search for a culture that perfectly fits their wants and needs. Earlier it was all about “can I fit into the uniform?” Now, the mindset has shifted — “I can find the right uniform elsewhere or I will create my own.”

Thanks for sharing, Velma.

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