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

When effectively managed, culture in organizations can be the most significant contributor to the performance of the organization. For culture to contribute effectively to organizational performance, the culture development plan of the organization must effectively align performance goals with the needs of the “human condition”.

The human condition at work, as in life, operates from a predictable set of needs and wants, as well as a decision making “formula” that is intrinsic to behaviors and behavior change.

Keystone Culture Group Case Vignette:

Employees of a medical specialty clinic, including employed, licensed, professionals responded to the Keystone CulturePulse survey. The last response item asks individuals to react to this statement; “The culture of our organization is as good as it should be.” Analyses of the responses demonstrated a typical pattern of expectations that was sufficiently predictive of responses to this final item.

  1. “listen to me, I have something important to tell you”
  2. “respect my competency and experience”
  3. “tell me the truth”
  4. “I need to know how I belong here”
  5. “I need to know if I’m appreciated”
  6. “trust me to make good decisions”
  7. “hold everyone to the same standards of performance”
  8. “I need to know that leaders really know what is going on”
  9. “I need to believe we have a fair and just environment that I can trust”
  10. “I can speak up without fear of retribution or ridicule”

A practical psychological framework for understanding the human condition at work is offered in Julian Rotter’s Social Learning Theory (in-depth explanation available here). Rotter’s Social Learning Theory posits that human behaviors are affected by individuals’ expectations for rewards that are valued. Behavior change is predicted by the modification of one or both of these factors. With this theory, “expectations” can be characterized as “needs” and rewards can be tangible in nature of intrinsic. Leadership affects perceptions on both internal “scales” for individuals.

When a person’s internal needs assessment demonstrates that one or both factors are “out of balance” a behavioral response should be expected; one that may be wholly rational or irrational given the perspective of the observer.

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