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Why You Should NOT Have a Culture Chief

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Hopefully this doesn’t come across as picking nits but I read a post on the Achievers blog the other day called “Top 3 Reasons Why You Need a “Culture Chief.”

And I think they are wrong. 

I hate saying that because there are so many nuances when looking at ways to drive culture in an organization but the fact of the matter is this…

 

As soon as you make something someone’s responsibility – it’s no longer anyone else’s job.

 

Job = Responsibility

Hire a proofreader – typos are now their fault right?  What happens when copy goes to print and there is a typo?  “Hey – I sent it to the proofreader – it’s his job to catch typos.”

Have sales people?  Sales is their job.  No longer do the rank and file think their job is to talk about business with friends and family – even if they live next door to possibly the best contact ever for the company.  “Hey –I’m in accounts payable.  We have sales people who are supposed to talk to people about our products and services.  It’s their job to identify prospects and call on them – not mine to recommend my neighbor.”

See what I mean.

Sure we have to have specialties.  We have to have job functions.  But in the big picture scheme of things as soon as you codify, quantify and assign responsibility to something it ceases to be everyone’s responsibility.

Culture Is Everyone’s Job

Culture is a defined as a set of shared values, behaviors, norms.  Shared.  Operative word.  Shared means we all have a part in the outcome and the input.

If you create a job called “Culture Chief” you’ve just provided a backdoor for every manager, every employee to use as their personal escape route when culture starts to go wrong at your company.

Engagement scores down… “The Culture Chief didn’t return my calls.” 

Retention down … “What is the Culture Chief doing to impact retention.”

Sales drop due to bad customer service… “The Culture Chief was supposed to do a seminar on how we are a customer focused company but got tied up in a meeting about creating a new team building event.”

Culture Isn’t A Job – It’s Who WE Are

Culture isn’t a position.  Culture isn’t a job.

Culture is who you ARE.  Culture is who you are COLLECTIVELY.

Until companies understand that culture is a collective responsibility and that no one person or one program can drive culture we will continue to struggle with a creating and maintaining culture. 

Don’t Create A “Culture Chief”

Create a culture. 

Very different. 

Very, very different.

What do you think?  Is this too narrow?  Or maybe too broad?  All I know, my experience is that as soon as you give someone the responsibility for something – everyone else is happy they don’t have to worry about it anymore.

Originally posted on on Incentive Intelligence

17 Responses to “Why You Should NOT Have a Culture Chief”

  1. Scott Crandall says:

    Again, brilliant!  I think you’ve hit it on the head: it’s everyone’s job to contribute to define, build, strengthen and maintain the culture — starting with those “big dollar people” at the top.  

    In fact, don’t like the culture?  Start the finger pointing at the top.  A “Culture Czar” won’t get it done if the problem resides squarely in the C-Suite.

    • Paul Hebert says:

      Thanks Scott.  As usual – it’s the simple things that really drive the business.  As you point out – there already is a culture captain at every company – the CEO – and of course – everyone else!  Thanks for the comments.

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  3. […] the whole post a Paul Hebert’s I-2-I (an FOT contributor blog) jQuery(document).ready(function($) { […]

  4. Jessie Angulo says:

    Could not agree more. No matter how hard your “culture chief” tries to drive culture, it needs to be embedded into the leadership of the company for it to stick. 

    • Paul Hebert says:

      Thanks Jessie.  Appreciate the engagement here.  I would go further and say it needs to be embedded in everyone in the company… but it won’t work without the leadership engaged.

  5. […] the whole post a Paul Hebert’s I-2-I (an FOT contributor blog) This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012 at 18:03, is filed […]

  6. Robert Hatta says:

    The Culture Chief is the CEO.  And you’re right that it’s a role that can’t be abdicated or delegated to one person to police.  And my experience is that if you think you need someone to do this, you’ve already failed at culture.  And instances where I’ve seen this role created, typically the focus is on silly games, happy hours and crap that matters very little in developing a real culture.

  7. […] and the staff can celebrate the end of the week with a few Friday beers,” writes Boese.1. Why You Should Not Have a Culture Chief. You can’t make “culture” a single person’s job, argues Paul Hebert. […]

  8. […] Why You Should NOT Have a Culture Chief(symbolist.com) […]

  9. […] others argue that culture–defined as a ‘set of shared values, behaviors, and norms’–should fall on everyone within an organization, not just one person. Either way, it starts at the executive […]

  10. […] that culture–defined as a ‘set of shared values, behaviors, and norms’–should fall on everyone within an organization, not just one person. Either way, it starts at the executive […]

  11. […] others argue that culture–defined as a “set of shared values, behaviors, and norms”– should fall on everyone within an organization, not just one person. Either way, it starts at the executive […]

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