There is no doubt that education leaders are paying more attention to “culture.” Improving, changing, building, and driving school culture has become a much talked about subject – just take a look at some of the hashtags created around the topic #schoolculture, #edculture, etc. But what exactly are you driving and building? Culture reflects the values of your organization. It goes beneath the surface of taglines and inspirational posters. It goes deep into the soul of the school to what is encouraged, discouraged, accepted, or rejected. Your culture has many facets that may be driven by lots of things such as results, caring, order, safety, learning or a combination of factors.
Components of Culture
To change or make a desired culture more pervasive, your culture must go deep into the “behaviors, systems, and practices” of your organization. According to Harvard Business Review) “A great culture is what you get when all three of these are aligned, and line up with the organization’s espoused values. When gaps start to appear, that’s when you start to see problems — and see great employees leave.”
How do these components line up in your organization?
Behaviors: Perhaps one of the most important aspects of culture is the behavior of its leaders. We expect teachers to set clear expectations in their classrooms, are you doing the same? How do you show that you honor and value the input of your entire staff? How do you respond to ideas and opinions? Do you reward behaviors that reflect your culture? If you do not walk the talk of your culture, people will see the whole thing as just an empty lip service.
Systems: The systems that you have in place in your organization should reflect and help you drive and build the culture that you desire. How is hiring done? Strategy and goal setting? How are employee assessments done? How do you determine and support professional development? How are staff rewarded? Each of these systems help support and define the culture of your district.
Practices: How do you run meetings? Do you have repeatable decision-making and problem-solving processes in place? Is work done collaboratively? How do you provide feedback? The saying “practice what you preach” comes to mind here. Your day to day practices speak volumes to the people you serve.
Each of these three components work together to create a great culture. As HBR states: “…if the time is spent (1) really understanding the behaviors expected throughout the organization; (2) identifying the systems and processes that will continue to help those behaviors be expressed and sustained; and (3) shaping practices that help employees and the organization become better, then you can close your culture gaps…” and create a great culture that people will want to be part of.