Further Cultural Commentary – warning: this post contains reality!

Ok, we all get it: culture is important to an organization.  It drives both method and motivation, and defines the overall character of a group.  And yes, we all know that it is the leader’s responsibility to shape culture in a way that maximizes organizational benefits.  Sure, cohesive cultures, ones that nurture, ones that offer support and a can do attitude survive the challenges of the market.  But leaders are never alone, and so it is better to say that culture is driven by the predominant members in an organization.

And, despite what we hope to achieve in equality, predominant members of an organization tend to be of one gender or another.  There are “guy” companies and “women” companies; “the boys’” branch location or the office with all the ladies; the firm with male nerds and the boutique with sophisticated debutantes.  It’s a man’s world and it’s also a woman’s world.  It depends where you work.  And these two places have cultures all their own.

In the female culture (where organizations are predominantly influenced by women – more women leaders and more outspoken women than men in that organization) groups are valued highly.  Sharing work with the idea of a common goal dominates the organization.  Here, you see lots of shared, open folders with on-going projects.  Assignments tend to include several people.  Emails have lengthy Cc: lines.  Meetings are filled with several people.  Kindness, support, understanding, and congratulations form the norm in communications.  Offices are filled with holiday decorations.  A lot of emphasis is put on logging out of systems, securing cabinets, double saving files, and talking about family.

In the male culture (where organizations are predominantly influenced by men – more male leaders and more outspoken men than women in that organization) an emphasis on individual responsibility dominates.  While teams exist, they are treated as temporary, single goal-focused instruments  Most male culture teams divide work – meaning an individual is responsible for a particular component, and then deposits it into the team pot.  Foul language is part of the morning hello, if not the entirety of the hello.  Offices are filled with snacks and games, while emphasis is put on impressing the next guy into liking you at all costs.  Conversation includes mostly sports and other businesses.  Projects tend to be hidden, and information a golden cache meant to be pried out of an iron chest. towards a means.

So what good does any of this do?  Knowing this breakdown helps you plan your approach to working for either of these organizations.  If you are switching from one culture to another, you will need to adjust your routines or you will be bucking the system rather fiercely.