Culture is NOT the “unwritten laws” of an organization that people follow because they know “that’s the way things are done around here”; the subliminal “understandings” that explain what people do and how they do it.
Culture is not an outcome of employee dynamics.
Culture is a thoughtful, carefully crafted topology of how individuals MUST engage together if the organization is to succeed.
Culture is driven by two factors: what the organization is trying to achieve – strategy – and the means to mobilize it’s people to work together to achieve the strategy – values.
A new employee needs to understand both in order to “get” the culture of the organization.
Without strategy and values, the new employee is virtually in a vacuum with only the noise and biased opinions of bosses and colleagues to provide their view of culture.
To get culture understanding off on the right foot for a new employee, first crystallize your strategic game plan into the critical actions that must be taken to deliver the strategic goals of the organization (it’s a “game plan” because it’s focused on execution rather than lofty helium-filled intent).
Define the top 3 overall objectives that must be achieved rather than a list of 20 things; people – especially NEW employees – need to be focused on the critically few things to, not be presented with a grocery list of relevant activities.
Translate these objectives into the role the employee is expected to play and the deliverables they must produce. This is a critical task of leadership. A new employee must hear “from the horse’s mouth” what specific role they must play; what critical deliverables they must produce.
Once the “what” – strategy – has been explained to the newbie, the “HOW” – values – must also be delivered. Values describe how employees are expected to work together to produce the expected strategic outcomes.
Values are strategic. They define the attributes of the employee team – the dynamics it must display – necessary to “live” the organization’s strategic purpose.
This is a great example of defining both strategy and the people behaviours necessary to execute it. With this one-pager, a one-on-one leader conversation with a new employee will be extremely effective in making clear the culture of the organization and motivating the individual to help execute it.
To be effective orienting a new employee must be meticulous and detailed, not a high level conversation. If not they won’t get your culture and you won’t get an employee in tune with your purpose.