Does your organisation have a work culture?

There have been mentions of organizational culture, yet perhaps most don’t really understand what this means. BY POPYENI KAXUXWENA

Does your organisation have a work culture?

There have been mentions of organizational culture, yet perhaps most don’t really understand what this means. To put this article in perspective, let me bring forth the definition of the word culture from a re-known Scholar, “Culture is the total accumulation of beliefs, norms, activities and communication patterns of an identifiable group of people.” (Dodd 1991:41). In its definition, we see it as a way of doing things for a specific group of people. We further see an alignment of rules and regulations, used to identify norms and beliefs within a group of people. The coronation of the two words, organization culture, helps us identify the type of environment employees work in. Organizational culture is the way people work together, how they cohabit, the style of language used, the dress code, and mostly how they execute tasks to get to its vision. 

In my first job, as a waiter, the restaurant I worked for had a culture, that even as a client one could see its uniqueness. At the time, there were 3 renowned restaurants in Windhoek, of which were Grand Canyon Spur, Saddles, and Mike's Kitchen. Each of them was known for a certain type of food, Spur was known for ribs, Saddles was known for burgers, and Mike's kitchen was known for milkshakes. 

What was interesting was the culture of each of these establishments. Let me speak on Spurs culture based on my working experience. Its culture was easily visible, from the interior of a native American Indian tribe style, the dress code of the waitrons, and also mostly on how they greet you at the entrance. Other visible traits of anyone coming into spur were, young vibrant youthful waiters and waitresses, the friendliness welcoming of a smile, and an in-house children’s clown holding balloons to further sparkle the kids as they walk in with their parents. As a new employee, you had to adapt to make these traits be part of you. All these examples of traits made up what is called organizational culture. 

Now let’s further fuse this into an organization outside food. I’ve been in some organizations where one can’t seem to identify what culture they are in. In fact, asking them about the work culture will be like asking a physics exam on atoms from someone who studied in the social field. ????

Knowing the type of organizational culture one is in, helps employees embed themselves to adopt in the organization's vision and mission. It’s easy for an employee to feel lost with no direction on how to act or be free when its culture is not embedded from onboarding. There should be a way of doing things, already strategized in the organization's core values.  

Here are 3 notable examples of how to create a culture for your organization or department.

  1. Dress code: Presentation is everything. The image of your staff should reflect that of your clients you want to attract. A more used example could be formal wear Monday to Thursday and jeans and company labeled T-shirts on Fridays or African wear every last Friday of each month. No sandals or shorts at work. These all depend on your industry of course.
  2. Visible core values:  Ensure visibility of the organizational values. Ensure each employee knows by heart and lives by the core values of the organization. It's not in mimicking but rather in living the organization's values.
  3. Onboarding made easy: Make the onboarding fun. Ease the tension from the new employee who just endured a journey of job seeking and preparing for the interview by walking them through the onboarding with excitement. 

There are many more ways, reach out to me to help your organization create a culture. What is your organization's work culture? 


Popyeni Kaxuxwena is the author of the book ‘Let’s Work’ Growing beyond a job description. He’s a keynote speaker on work ethics and a Training Facilitator at Let’s Work Commercial Group cc. You can reach him via email: