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This mini-case study is part of our Culture-in-Action Series.

Culture is the human condition at work. Work settings are social communities composed of individuals who bring their personal, psychological, emotional, and histories to the work setting.

Work settings are the quintessential “melting pots” of the human condition. Each individual brings “themselves” to the job description they are hired to fulfill. The organization “gets what it gets”. The “individual”, and all that it means, interacts with the expected performance of a specific job to make it their own.

Leaders should expect that their perceptions of performance of the job at-hand will differ from the person given the job. The basics of job performance expectations of outcomes are easy when compared with the expectations of how a job should be done. What does this mean? Leaders can easily make clear the expectations of performance outcomes. How the team member, in charge, executes on the job requirements can, and often does, differ from how that person’s superior might prefer how the job is done.

So, each member of a management team will bring their personality, behavioral characteristics and tendencies and life history to “the table”, as they execute on the organizational goals at-hand. Senior leaders should be prepared for surprises as they relate to the “how” of execution of expected mandates of subordinates. The “how” of execution is frequently a product of the social psychological make-up of the individual interacting with the social psychology of the culture of the organization.

Keystone Culture Group Case Vignette:

A Rookie tight end is recruited to a contending NFL team. This Rookie was a division 1 college star. The offense of the team’s strategy, as it relates to the new tight end, is foreign to the rookie. It doesn’t play to his strengths or preferences. The job description of tight ends for the team’s strategy is clear. Change on the part of the rookie is required. The first job of the leader (the tight end coach) is to de-construct and then re-construct the raw talent, potential and mindset of the player. The basis for this process is: the team’s belief system as it relates to its strategy and the position, the culture that requires the rookie to adapt his belief system to that of the team and the coach’s responsibility and accountability for the process. Leaders in organizations must keep in mind that the on-boarding and training of people new to organizations requires an appreciation for how a new team member will interact with the job description, expectations for performance and how the job is to be done based upon “who that new person is”. While there is no way of knowing all there is to know about goodness of fit early on, those doing the on-boarding can provide an introduction of the underlying belief system and organizational culture characteristics and expectations that will contribute to how the job is to be done.

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