This or That? Importance of Organizational Culture

One of the first things I notice in other people’s bathrooms is how they hang their toilet paper. I prefer the paper dispensed from the front of the roll and not the back.

I recently visited one of my relatives and needed to use their bathroom. As usual, the first thing I checked was how the paper was hanging. It was backward so I changed it around. Once I was finished handling my business and wrapped up the paperwork, I immediately went to the second bathroom to check on the paper. Sure enough, it was hanging backward. I fixed the roll in the second bathroom too.

Needless to say, later that day, I went to use the bathroom and found someone had once again reversed the roll. I immediately went to the second bathroom and that roll was reversed as well. I was perplexed for a moment. It just seemed so obvious to me that there was only one way to hang toilet paper.

Once I regained my composure I reflected on at least one of my organizational experiences. I recalled once working for a company that I thought was way too stuffy, so I was determined to change the culture of the organization to my liking. My employment did not last very long with this company. My supervisor brought me in and simply told me I was not a fit for the organization.

Here is what I learned from that work experience. Unless the company hires me to research and change the culture of the organization, my responsibility once hired is to do the job I accepted. Why is this idea of accepting the culture important?

This particular company was around for more than 50 years, was a multibillion-dollar company, and was successful not in spite of its culture, but rather, because of the company’s culture. I did my research about the company, I studied as much as I could before the interview, and I landed the job on the first try. I learned that once I researched a company and then decided to join the company, it was in my best interest to either abandon my ambitions to change the culture, embrace the culture, or seek other employment with a company I perceived to be in alignment with my cultural values.

Going to someone’s home and changing their toilet paper around without asking permission is disrespectful to the host. My only action should have been to ensure there was enough paper available on the roll before handling my business so I could effectively complete the paperwork. I should have focused on embracing the culture instead of trying to change the culture in the middle of a critical event.

Stan Brooks, PhD

Categorized as Leadership

By Stan Brooks, PhD

Dr. S. MacNivan Brooks is an Intergroup Leadership Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Author.

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