Skip to content

Business What is Culture?


By: •  3 years ago •  

What is Culture?

“a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning” Wikipedia.

Human beings are hiving creatures, we take our social cues from those around us. So, if we want a shift in culture, within our teams, organisations, communities or industries, we must first look at how we are behaving currently, collectively, and explore what led us to this place.

Culture is often thought of as an intangible web.

In truth, while it represents a complex set of thoughts, patterns and perceptions, in collective tense, it is a dynamic phenomenon, as changeable as the individuals who inhabit it.

To impact culture consciously (because let’s face it, we are all impacting culture every day, its more a question of how than if, we are impacting the group), we must simplify the concept.

Culture can be viewed as the sum-total of relationships.

Therefore, when organisational issues are viewed in aggregate, almost always, dysfunctional culture has its foundations in relationship and communication breakdown.

Even where the initial source of tension is workload or resource related, it is highly likely that improved relationships and communication will result in decreased conflict, reduced stress and fewer links to leadership and workload/ resource related complaints.

An Integrated Approach

It is essential to organisational development to develop a rounded view by considering structural and process related impediments to optimal service delivery.

If we want to genuinely improve culture, we must think about integrated solutions that result in integrated service delivery, exploring the following culture questions:

What are the real issues here? (this often requires an independent view, sometimes even a comprehensive analysis of surface level symptoms).

Do we really want to know what people think/ how they feel? (FYI; if you answered no to this question, you are probably more interested in instruction than engagement).

What adjustments can we realistically make? How significantly will these changes impact business as usual? What is the likelihood of short term escalation of issues and can we endure short term loss for long term gain (because true culture change is not an eggless omelette, things will almost always worsen before improvement looms.

How can we implement culture change initiatives to achieve the best value for money outcomes?

How can we sustain positive change, understanding that culture is dynamic and changeable and that we will encounter challenges on the journey?

What processes, structures, channels and mechanisms will we use to maintain and build on momentum so that in the future we see challenges as opportunities, using them to connect and collaborate to develop solutions?
Here is where the rubber really hits the road. True culture change should be measured over the long term.

How do we prepare so that challenges become a welcome opportunity for us to thrive, openings for individuals and the organisation to develop together? #winwin

Of course, the end game answers the three central questions which represent the beginning, the middle and the end of all culture constructed puzzles;

1How can we engage individuals to develop insight, take-action and contribute constructively to organisational outcomes?
2What do we need to do, change, improve or address at the organisational level to enable the above?
3How do we establish genuine two-way communication within our organisations, so that we listen, hear and respond effectively?

These questions are the very key to inspired engagement and culture shift.

They create the pathway for future focused solutions, an integrated approach, improved relationships and enhanced outcomes by forming the basic objectives of culture strategy.

The Challenge In Coaching for Culture

Coaching for culture requires more than just the ability to deal with individuals.

The very precept of coaching is to allow the coachee to arrive at their own answer, in their own time, using their own innate wisdom and following their own chosen pathways.

Managing that mysterious collaborative creation we call culture towards a robust and positive future state represents the opportunity for individuals to contribute to something greater than themselves, it is dependent on individual input while completely out of the grasp of individual control.

While its innate to the human condition to want to contribute to something bigger than just ourselves, it is not uncommon to fear the outcome when we do not control the process.

This requires engagement, collaboration and communication.

It starts with individuals and it requires an ongoing commitment to evolution and grow that the group level because just like each of us individually, culture is a living, breathing, changeable beast that reflects the shadow and light that exists within each of its inhabitants.

 The Great Culture Reveal

There is a case for the tipping point, that “magic moment when an idea, trend or social behaviour crosses a threshold, tips and spreads like wildfire” (Malcolm Gladwell) but as far as I can tell, creating (sometimes referred to as changing) and sustaining culture does not always rely on the collective efforts of a small few or a great many.

The big secret to creating good vibes at work is YOU. Individuals are the key. We cannot control people or events outside of us but in managing our own thoughts we can regulate our own emotional reactions, choose and manage our behavioural responses, thereby creating our own experience and setting the tone for the type of culture we are willing to participate within.

You can create your experience by recognising your own neurological patterns and consciously enabling good culture.

Yet in the words of Joseph Campbell “the cave you fear to enter holds the treasure that you seek”.  This is where the great divide at the source of most cultural issues originates.

We want so much to ‘be the difference’, yet we do not trust ourselves, our ability, our efforts, our capability to achieve what we so want. Inside this inauthentic judgement of self, it is hard for us to trust others.

We begin to question the intent of those around us. We erode our own natural state of care and yield to the projectionary tactics that help us to avoid the vulnerability of uncertainty.

Linking hearts and minds at the individual level for action and outcomes at the organisational level requires a synthesis of visionary and tactical inputs, of coaching and massaging group think. Of intention aligned with action. Of challenge and achievement. Of purpose, focus and alignment. A dance with no end. A house of cards perhaps, a symphony of one.

Small tweaks make a big difference when it comes to culture.

Only the brightest of coaching sparks can light the flame that spreads the vibe.

Cultures of Excellence offers a framework for culture change, for coaches, consultants and facilitators wanting to bring that something special to their clients.

Kim Yabsley

As a leading consultant in the field of organisational development Kim has helped many organisations ‘future proof’ themselves through the development and implementation of strategic frameworks to manage change and develop resilient workforces.

Kim has significant experience in various communications, organisational development and strategy roles across the public and private sectors and has assisted clients to identify and understand organisational gaps, develop tools to address these gaps and facilitate the implementation of tools to ensure sustained change in the workplace, measurable through business outcomes.

Kim’s experience extends to, project management, facilitation, training and employee engagement. She is an international speaker, author and expert in developing emotional intelligence that has practical application within organisations.

Kim is a highly competent facilitator who speaks with authority and creates the opportunity for audiences to listen for what is possible for themselves and their teams in the process of organisational development.

Share this article

Featured Articles

Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

Too often we hear of the accountant whose books don’t balance, the...

Becoming an International Coach

By: Bill Sweetenham •  4 months ago •   Here is my detailed outline for a developing…

Coaching in the Time of COVID-19

By: Maria Newport •  4 months ago •   What they don’t Teach you in Coaching School…

One Question

Being a business coach is a dream job. The click you have with your coachee……...

This content is for Community Coach and Career Coach members only.
Login Join Now


By: Sean Douglas •  2 years ago •   Is data analytics the future of sports coaching?…

Are Coaches Educators or Trainers

By: •  2 years ago •   Are Coaches Educators or Trainers As all coaches know this…

Put Your Oxygen Mask on First

Too often we hear of the accountant whose books don’t balance, the builder with an…


HEALTHY THINKING IN A CRAZY WORLD In 1989 the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and…

Negotiation Skills: Art or Science

By: Margot Smith •  4 months ago •   We learn how to negotiate from a very…

Trust, Purpose, Anxiety, Identity

By: Steve Barlow •  4 months ago •   “It was my first day on the job….

A Wake Up Call for Business

By: Alan Ste •  4 months ago •   Recently Bill Gates said that the one question…

Coaching Through COVID and Beyond

It happened so fast. One minute it seemed that I was gearing up for a…

Creating a Sense of Safety in Your Remote Conversations

I belong to a community that gathers online once a week to help each other…


By: Michele Toner •  2 years ago •   If you are working as a coach, there’s…


By: Chérie Carter-Scott, Ph.D. MCC •  2 years ago •   Coaching is a way of being….

Cancer Coaching

By: •  2 years ago •   1 in 2 Australian men and 1 in 3 Australian…

Career Snakes & Ladders

By: Margot Smith •  10 months ago •   Careers can sometimes be like Snakes & Ladders….

Coaching Behind the Mask

By: •  1 year ago •   Coaching Behind The Mask 7 Steps to Success By Steve…


By: Marie Zimenoff •  1 year ago •   How Career Coaching is Evolving to Serve 5…

Busyness Obsessions

By: Kasia Jamroz •  1 year ago •   How to win a race without the finish…


By: Michele Toner •  2 years ago •   If you are working as a coach, there’s…