Don’t Let The Mission Drive a Bad Culture

The reputation of any organization is seen through its culture. A culture defines what an organization looks like. What an organization looks like is not driven by the physical identity, but by the actions of the people. Sometimes the actions of the people can be driven by unrealized factors such as the organization’s own mission and not by its values.

Mission demands can change an organization’s culture unintentionally. An organization’s mission can sometimes drive unintended behaviors in people. When people act in ways that don’t align with the organization’s values or intended culture then the culture becomes misaligned and often becomes unstable. What we see in many organizations is the mission driving people to act differently than the desired culture intends. If driven by the mission’s needs it can cause people to disrespect each other, break trust, create team dysfunction and hinder productivity.

Incorrect Approach
Mission > unintended behaviors > people > unintended culture=instability

This happens when leaders are focused only on measuring, monitoring and rewarding results as mentioned by Chris Edmonds, author of The Culture Engine. If leaders are worried about results by any means then the people will do whatever is necessary to deliver results and sometimes it’s at the expense of the organization’s culture.

An organization should use their values to drive intentional behaviors in people. When people act in ways that align with the organization’s intended culture then the culture becomes aligned and will lead to stability and productivity. 

Correct Approach
Values > intended behaviors > people > intentional culture=stability

As values drive the actions of the people it should maintain a healthy work environment that can execute the mission as intended. Every organization must have a system in place for ensuring that each member remains guided by positive values.

An organization without accountability is destined to remain unstable. Stability is the organizations ability to hold it together. No team wants to work backwards and set back positive behaviors such as trust, respect and dignity. This is why values driven organizations are leaping forward in their efforts to retain employees and work productively. 

I challenge you to assess how your organization is operating in relation to how the people are interacting with each other. If you find negative behaviors then take a look at what the mission is demanding of them and ensure people are aware of the values they should be living in order to execute the mission.