Government Culture Drives Performance: What Do You Want To Do About It?

Create The Culture You Want or It Will Create You

Culture drives performance, especially in government. Governments need to be intentional in creating the culture they want and need: one that is inclusive and engaging, creating the conditions for organizational and individual performance. If not, the prevailing attitudes and expectations will drive what many will see as the acceptable government culture that answers the question “how we do things around here.”

Culture creates meaning for those within the organization as a result of it being shared among staff members. Culture is seen and unseen as the expression of the organization’s values manifested by how people relate to one another and to the external environment, how they communicate and interact, how they value their work, and how they are valued by their work. In the workplace, individuals act according to various assumptions and expectations, which are often un-examined and taken for granted.

Culture is the secret sauce that makes or breaks organizational productivity. Yet an organization’s culture — that is, its values and behaviors — should be driven and actively managed by the vision and strategic direction of its leadership and people. Only then will culture be primed to support the successful execution of the organization’s strategy.

Employee Engagement and Behaviors

Two important components of organizational culture are employee engagement and values, both of which shape culture. Therefore we – whether we be the leader of the organization, a manger, supervisor or team lead, or individual contributor – need engagement drivers. Leaders of any organization should make it a priority to focus on employee engagement and values in order to create an effective and supportive performance-enhancing culture.

So, what is engagement? Employee engagement describes how people feel about the meaning of their work, how they feel about the leadership, management practices, the work environment, ability to develop and grow and their level of involvement. Simply said, engagement is the extent to which employees commit to something or someone in their organization. Engagement is the understanding that people want to belong, feel significant and contribute in their day-to-day positions. It’s relationship based, emotional and powerful.

Now the first question, what are you doing to engage your staff members, peers and bosses so they feel positive about their work, the relationship and their ability to grow?

Behaviors into Values

After you’ve pondered that question, you may be asking, what’s this got to do with values?  Values are the expressions of behaviors. We don’t see our values unless we see a behavior.

Now, the second question, what behaviors are you displaying to your peers, staff members and bosses.

How we engage others through our behaviors creates the culture we want. We are  involved in the process of tasks and often don’t think about specific actions that invest in the implicit and explicit norms that drive behavior. Those behaviors create our culture, and culture is either intentionally created or you are created by the culture. Go forth and create the culture you need for your organization’s success.

Want more? Read 6 Suggestions to Ease Organizational Culture Changes, or 8 Tips for Changing Culture in the Federal Government.

Andrew Rahaman is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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Nya Jackson

This is so true. If government can’t compete on compensation with the private sector, it’s important to create a positive work environment to recruit and retain talent. It makes a huge difference when you can create a culture where people enjoy (or at least don’t mind) going to work.

Avatar photo Emily Jarvis

I always read the Federal Viewpoint Survey and take down the low employee engagement results, if we could improve morale the way to recruit and retain top talent would be so much better. This was a great post!