E40 | Discover the Power of Culture With the Cultural Strategist, Aga Bajer
Today’s guest is Aga Bajer, better known as the Culture Strategist. She helps companies cultivate a better culture in order to bring their vision to life.
Aga does this through working with organisations and teams that want to keep evolving to remain at the top of their game. She helps senior leadership teams and individual leaders to cultivate a culture that fuels great work, drives achievement of mission-critical goals and enables positive change.
Her overall mission is to help organisations harness the power of culture, to create a world where people love showing up to work.
On today’s podcast:
- Learn about her book, Building and Sustaining a Coaching Culture
- Learn about her podcast, CultureLab with Aga Bajer
- How her childhood growing up behind the Iron Curtain in Poland set her on this current path
- Why she can’t pinpoint which country she loves living in the most
- What motivated her to leave the corporate world and set out on her own
Today’s guest is Aga Bajer, better known as the culture strategist—a strategist who helps companies cultivate a better culture to help bring their vision to life. Aga is a firm believer that culture can make or break you.
And she doesn’t just limit herself to one culture—she works with companies all around the globe, helping them to create workplaces to which people love to show up each day.
She is aware, however, that in order to get the most out of her time with a company, there has to be complete buy-in from the CEO. She acknowledges that only those who are ready for change—who accept that there is a problem and who understand the value of culture—will actually do something meaningful about it.
Definition of Culture
According to Aga, the most common definitions of culture tend to only focus on the superficial level of culture—for example, saying that culture is the way things are done. But that isn’t just it. The Titanic didn’t sink because of the tip of the iceberg, it sank because of what it couldn’t see: the rest of the ‘berg hidden beneath the surface.
Yes, culture is the way things are done, but that doesn’t mean routines are unchangeable or written in stone. Culture can be whatever you want it to be.
Aga likens culture to a form of intelligence, believing that culture is when a group of people come together and share a similar set of circumstances, be they neighbours, work colleagues, or a family group. Culture is specific to each particular setup, it drives the behaviour of those in the culture by stipulating the rules. For that reason, culture is fluid—an organic entity that is constantly evolving.
Culture in a Business Organisation
The culture in a business organisation is the driving factor behind turning a good company great. It is what will allow the business to achieve their ambitious growth plans and their definition of success, not through a culture of fear, but by cultivating a culture that works for all.
How to Change Culture at Work
In order for culture at work to change, there has to be complete buy-in from the top level executives, especially the CEO, because leaders cast the longest shadows.
Firstly, everyone must talk about the work culture explicitly. People are happy to do things to fix their culture, but rarely are they happy to be vulnerable or, to acknowledge the problems of here and now. But in order to understand the current culture and what needs changing, you have to address the elephants in the room, both the good and the bad.
Aga believes companies run on an operating system, and culture is that operating system. Sometimes that culture is Windows 98, but the year is 2019, so it needs an update and a serious debugging.
The point is, no one is beyond change, as long as people are prepared to work hard and work together to achieve a common end goal, culture can be improved.
Books Aga has read
- Fearless Organisation – Amy Edmondson
- Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential – Carol Dweck
- Dare to Lead – Brene Brown
- Reinventing Organisations – Frederic Laloux