Almost all managers (99%) in our study of 1,000 Australian managers believe that culture plays an integral role in the overall success of an organisation.

Among inclusion and diversity, psychological safety, staff attraction and retention and achievement of organisational goals, 83 per cent of managers said that culture has the most significant impact on employee engagement.

In so many ways culture is your team’s unseen competitive advantage.

And therein lies one of the big challenges with culture.

We talk a lot about culture but if I was to ask you to take me on a tour and show me your culture, where would you take me first?

What would you show me?

That’s hard to do because culture has an unseen element.

It has an intangible influence.

When people seek to define culture, they typically include elements which are hard to measure and usually unseen. Elements like ‘values’, ‘beliefs’, ‘understandings’ and ‘meanings’.

You can’t point to your beliefs. It’s hard show me your values. It’s impossible to touch an understanding.

Even though they are difficult to measure and impossible to touch, they are an underlying set of factors which guide expectations and influence the culture of our teams.

To shape the culture you want, don’t ignore the unseen elements of culture.

Here’s something quick and simple you can do with your team.

Tory Eletto said “what isn’t communicated is felt, what is felt is interpreted and what is interpreted is often misinterpreted“.

Without a conversation about the unseen elements of culture, people are left to interpret and misinterpret. They learn the values by bumping up against them and facing the consequences. They interpret meaning through observation rather than clarifying to bring understanding.

Make the unspoken spoken

Initiate a conversation with your team about the unspoken expectations of one another. What do you expect of the team, what do they expect of you and each other and what does the organisation expect of us as a collective?

Take time to explore this set of unspoken expectations and determine whether these expectations are helpful to hold. Consider whether holding these expectations will help create the team culture you are aspiring to create. If they are, affirm them. If they are not, work together to reframe them.

It’s better to clarify than to interpret.

Here’s a question to reflect on this week:
What are the unspoken expectations I have of my team and have I made those explicit?