Acknowledging an Organization’s Cultural Truth


Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth. — Buddha

Leaders may have an inaccurate view of their own operating culture. This dynamic can create serious issues when we attempt to change how employees engage in conversation about work and career.  As with all initiatives of value — attempting to make deep changes in how we approach careers organizationally, is not an overnight process. However, the starting point is always the same: facing an organization’s cultural truth.

There are so many questions that should be answered: How is our culture actually perceived? Have our collected behaviors signaled the presence of trust? Do our team members feel they can discuss career objectives? Are managers comfortable (and prepared) to do so?

Areas to explore, include the tell tale indications that a culture may not be supporting open career conversations. Here are a few common symptoms that could indicate that the operating cultural truth (concerning careers) has not been acknowledged:

  • Unexplained turnover. If you’ve developed a pattern of “premature” departures with highly valued employees (once happily part “of the fold”).
  • Exit interviews with a parting “bite”. If exit interviews reveal problems concerning work and career, that could have been effectively addressed.
  • Recruitment woes. This dynamic is subtle — yet very ominous. When managers begin to complain that candidates are passing you by (for reasons unknown), your organization’s “cultural reputation”, may be a contributor.

The truth can be difficult to face.

However, the costs of hiding that truth can ultimately prove much, much higher.

Explore your operating culture. It is worth a second look.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist.  She is the Director of Organizational Development at Allied Talent. She is a charter member of the LinkedIn Influencer Program. Her posts on workplace topics have appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum.


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