Let's be clear. Organisations are nothing more that a collection of human beings gathered together. If we're lucky, they gather around a common purpose. But there are 'meerkats' out there, and the trick is to spot them and learn how to manage them.
Company culture can be a playground for would-be 'meerkats'.
Living on an island, surrounded by beautiful seas, but so close to France and the UK, it might not surprise you to hear that on Guernsey there are few predatory animals, especially animals that are likely turn on their own kind.
We don’t have foxes, badgers or adders and certainly don't have large wild cats or packs of dogs. Although we do have some jellyfish, we are fortunate not to have the Siamese Fighting Fish, which are one of many species that attack and harm their own kind.
They do this primarily because they see their peers as a threat, they want to protect their territory, or they are jealous. Interestingly, the FBI released research in 2015 to show that humans, are in fact, no different.
We do this in many ways, but generally speaking, in the workplace, we do this when we are in 'fear' or 'shame'. The behaviours that manifest in these situations are things like bullying, gossiping, covering-up, perfectionism, discrimination and harassment.
We turn on our own kind.
The most dangerous mammal to its own is actually reported to be the Meerkat, where around 20 percent of them meet their end at the hands of other meerkats.
If you’re joining an organisation,
If you’re looking to partner with an organisation, or
If you’re considering a merger or acquisition,
It’s important to understand their culture and how it may or may not fit with your own values and principles.
As reported in the recent article by HBR, we need to be careful when assessing a company’s culture, it suggests:
Interview your prospective colleagues
Do a test run, maybe for a week
Speak to outside sources
Think beyond the initial offer
Be introspective and trust your judgement
From a governance perspective, culture sits at its foundation.
The Purpose and Values of an organisation and how these intersect with both the behaviours within the organisation and the leadership of the organisation is critical.
My work is centred around trying to measure these relationships. Trying to quantify the governance of our organisations...essentially asking the tough question,
"how well are both your organisation, and
the people within your organisation, 'being steered’
and how well are they 'steering’?”.
It's an obvious statement, but we don't steer very well when we are fighting with ourselves and exhibiting behaviours which undermine and belittle our team mates.
Watch out for the 'meerkats', they can disrupt any culture and move you away from your purpose!