The instructor defines culture and discusses how it influences the ways in which we experience the world and our workplace.
- What comes to mind when you hear the word culture? You might consider things that you can see or that are a bit more tangible, such as food, clothing, music, language. Sure, these things are all aspects of culture. But most of culture are those things that are invisible and more subtle. Culture refers to those values, beliefs and traditions we are taught by the groups of people that we are a part of. More than that, we are taught behaviors, ways to act around these values, beliefs and traditions. Our culture is a set of unwritten rules that govern how we act and behave with regard to beliefs and values.
It is the behavioral interpretation of how a group lives out it's values in order to survive and thrive. You can think of it as the collective programming based on shared experiences. Consider a universal value that might have different interpretations across cultures, like hard work. Both baby boomers and millennials value hard work. But their behavior around how they work may differ. As a baby boomer and in my experience with leaders, baby boomers are more apt to interpret hard work as time you put in in the office.
Coming into the office early and leaving late. Hard work is demonstrated by face time in the office and taking work home. Millennials may think of work as happening anywhere. They can be working from home, probably irregular hours, at a coffee shop or on the phone while working on a project on their laptop. These differences led to interpretations that millennials are slackers and baby boomers are workaholics. Now you probably never thought about generation or age as a culture, but it is.
Our culture is made up of different aspects of our identity and who we are. Culture can be influenced by our race, our gender, our generation, geographic region, religion and more. We can share the same values around the world such as honesty, equality and integrity, but the interpretation of how we live out these values can be very different, even across cultures in our own country. It's in these differences that we unconsciously make judgments when we see people from different cultures behave in ways we don't understand.
Judgements that are actually rooted in our own sense of right and wrong and our own assumptions. We might inadvertently assume that everyone interprets or should interpret values the same way that we do. Let's take it back to the workplace. A common value in the workplace is trust, especially for leaders, teams or client customer-facing roles. Many organizations want to create a culture where employees trust leaders and customers trust the organization, however, across different cultures, the path towards trust, a universal value and the behaviors associated with building trust can be very different.
At this point, you should have a better understanding of what culture is and how it might influence our interactions in the workplace. Begin thinking about your culture, your values and some of the behaviors you associated with those values. The more aware you are of your own culture, the better positioned you are to recognize differences in others.