Culture is all around us. It is like oxygen, ever present. However, it’s often taken for granted and, in my experience, we only truly consider it when it’s under threat and at risk. So, having read the Financial Conduct Authority view on reforming culture, I welcome their call to put changes in culture ‘front and centre’.
During the 2008 financial crisis, Barack Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, was fond of saying, “you never want a serious crisis to go to waste.” I’d say the same principle should apply when there is a breach in behaviour/s that go against the norms or values of the culture – up to and including criminal behaviour. You don’t want these incidents to go to waste.
I once worked within an organisation where an employee was escorted off site, quite rightly, for a behaviour that was later found to be criminal. This event created the atmosphere for cultural reflection and, in the following weeks, a firm solidification of values. These are defining moments for an institution.
During a time when your culture is under threat, employees can come together to appreciate the organisational culture and its importance in binding the firm together. As we all know, culture change is more than change at the top or simply a top-down approach to change. Rather, it requires a discussion with all employees to identify and agree the cultural end state.
So, whilst a breach is always unwanted, it may be an opportunity for reflection, solidification and enhancement.
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