80 brilliant manager
Understand the existing culture
The chances are that you took over the running of an existing
team. You need to understand what culture you have inherited
and, in particular, what aspects of the culture are highly valued
by your staff. Changing any aspect of the existing culture will
need skilful and honest handling. Generally speaking, a wise new
manager takes their time to understand a new team and avoids
rapid changes of direction. A second inﬂuence on your team’s
culture will be if your organisation has strong cultural traits. For
example, if you work for an aggressive and combative organisa-
tion, you will have difﬁculty if you try to create a culture that
runs directly counter to this organisational bias.
I will split the remainder of the chapter into two parts. The ﬁrst
will be a discussion of the different sorts of culture that you may
want to create. The second part will discuss what techniques
you can deploy to change the culture in the directions that you
want – or, alternatively, that will change the culture in ways you
may not want if you do not plan your behaviour appropriately.
What sort of culture do you want?
As this book is aimed at the managers of the value creation within
an organisation, or those who provide a service to others who create
value, many of your team will deal with customers within or outside
the organisation. If this is the case I strongly suggest you have strong
cultural values about customer service. In the section on how to
create a culture I will return to customer service as an example.
Many strong cultures have extreme aspects to them. I want to
use this as an example of a common fallacy. A culture is a social
system, and any soft science that grows up around such complex
systems – be it management science, psychology or economics – is
very prone to incorrect suppositions of cause and effect. The fact
that strong cultures are usually extreme does not imply that by
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