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How to tackle culture clashes in organizations

Quite a few things in business don’t get enough attention from leaders as they should. Allocating adequate resources for innovation, balancing moonshot pursuits with the daily ‘bread-and-butter’ operations and keeping a tab on good prospects to acquire are among the most common that are observed in this regard.

This is not necessarily a reflection on the leader’s ineptness. Indeed, in many cases, the leaders would have good enough reason- a lack of time- for not being able to give attention of the above-said aspects.

But one thing that leaders rarely give attention to not because of lack of time but because they are rarely conscious of its importance is culture clashes that happen within an organization.

 

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Mismatch between employee aspirations & company’s modus operandi results in culture clashes

Understanding culture clashes  

Culture clashes are rarely just surface-level clashes. They are often manifestations of deeply seated insecurities among the workforce bubbling up to the surface.

To avoid or to solve them, one should pry and reach at these deep-seated issues.

That may be a time and resource-intensive thing to do. And time and other resources may be scarce to be allocated for such an endeavor.

Thankfully, there is a more practical way to solve the problem of cultural clashes.

But before we get into that, we should look at the two types of cultural clashes that most frequently happen in organizations. 

Two common types of culture clashes

The first type of cultural clash occurs when the a change agent doesn’t adjust well to the prevalent culture in the organization. Now, it’s important to note at this juncture that the culture of an organization is very much dependent on the vision that it follows.

Another point to note here is that the working culture- that’s the everyday culture that a particular change agent would be dealing with- is to a good extent determinant on the container or silo in which he or she works. After all, it’s their immediate colleagues whom  they would be interacting the most with.

The second type of cultural clash could be described as inter-personnel cultural clash. It is, as you surely have guessed, the friction brought about by the cultural difference between two change agents working in the same container. (By culture, it’s the work culture that’s meant here and not culture defined by socio-economic parameters.)

Both these types of culture clashes result in poor employee performance. And if it’s a widespread problem in the organization, then no amount of conventional problem-solving measures, like technologically enabling them better would help. For the simple reason that the problem you are trying to solve is not the real problem of cultural clash. 

The good news is that both types of culture clashes could be solved with the same thing: Compelling Shared Vision.

Compelling Shared Vision

Compelling Shared Vision is the shared goal towards which the change agents in a container move towards. Unlike the goals and targets that are imposed on teams from the outside, Compelling Shared Vision is more organic, in that it is born from among the team members themselves.

This gives them all the more reason to pursue this vision vigorously.

 

 

As mentioned before, the vision an organization pursues determines the culture of the organization. This is true on both the levels of the company and individual containers inside the company.

So, by helping the change agents realize their Compelling Shared Vision, you are laying down the grounds for a shared culture- everyone in the team following a single culture. By default, this negates culture clashes between the change agents inside the same silo.

As for the type of clash that’s born from a change agent’s maladjustment with the company work culture, that too is negated given how for the change agent, the work culture that matters is the culture in his or her container.

Besides, by helping the change agents define their own vision and then pursue it, you are setting a more holistic organization culture, one which would endear the company more to them.

Temenos Vision Lab or TVL is a unique session developed by Temenos+Agility that helps teams their Compelling Shared Vision. Using proprietary tools and conducted by some of the best transformation coaches in business, TVL is developed based on 25 years of business consultancy experience.


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