Lupe oversees a business division that includes sales people, engineers, research, and customer service staff. All teams work in different ways to accomplish their business strategies, but they also have work that is cross functional, relying on each other to get their work completed. At times, Lupe is overwhelmed at the teams’ cultural differences and the impact it has on productivity and sales. She knows that each team has their own working styles, but she didn’t realize how much these styles could interfere in the day to day operations of the division.
The sales department seems more outgoing and energetic than her engineers, who as a whole seem introverted and serious. Her researchers are detailed and scientific in nature, always questioning the tactics of the sales people. Her customer service employees who are by nature people and service friendly and always wanting to make sure everyone gets along. These departments work well, but Lupe knows that silos in the organization can hinder growth and creativity.
The example above illustrates culture at the team level. The values, beliefs, and norms of culture are present in team environments, dictating the team’s operations and efficiency. Cultural norms in teams guide members in their dress and appearance, their language, how they relate to one another, and how they get along. Some teams are very serious, while others use humor in their work life. Departments, teams, or workgroups can, and will, act very differently from each other even though they are located in the same building and in the same organization. Although you might not think about personality or temperament as cultural elements, they can and do shape a team’s culture.