Workplace Culture is just how we do things around here – and it generates a feeling that impacts on business performance, compliance, reputation and staff engagement.
I recall round the turn of the century I was performing a briefing (as a consultant) for a small team of executives from a specialist firm. We were debating building fantastic workplace culture what really is workplace bullying. Most of the senior team were getting passionately mixed up in discussion. A lady executive who had been not passionately involved and obviously quite annoyed about enough time it absolutely was taking to talk about such a’ineffectual’matter stood up and blurted’Actually all I wish to know is how far I can go before we call it bullying ‘. No unreasonable question but perhaps it absolutely was the lack of thought and sarcastic tone in the delivery that drove me to react (and quite unprofessionally I might add)’Well how far do you wish to go?’ I replied. Unsurprisingly she responded:’Well that’s what we are paying you to share with us Stephen Bell-HR Expert!’ Suddenly I was caught in the battle. There have been some smirks, giggles and’oh yeahs’from one or two of the ten executives which were sitting round the table. Most of an immediate I was being hit at once by’just how we do things around here.’
This is, actually, an opportunity for the Regional Director to remain true and indicate the organisational values. This is an opportunity for the HR executive to make a speech about causeing the an engaging workplace for folks and the lines should really be drawn by the worth of our values. And then I, Stephen Bell (HR Expert!) could recite the definitions outlined in local OH&S guidelines. None of the happened. I did lamely recite the values probably with a quarter the conviction the Regional Director would have and encouraged them to turn to page 20 inside their manuals where they might find the local definition of workplace bullying.
The Regional Director and HR Director remained relatively silent; the discussion lasted another 20 minutes before we all cordially shook hands and splintered off in our different directions to lead our completely different lives. I left with a certain feeling relating to this organisation -‘Arrogant, undefined about behaviour and culture, aggressive and rudderless, lacking leadership.’ Perhaps unfair judgements, but real and powerful feelings for me. And if’that moment’was indicative of the leadership behaviours,’arrogant, undefined about behaviour and culture, aggressive and lacking leadership’become justifiable descriptions of the workplace culture. And in’that moment’it was really what wasn’t said by the Regional Director and HR Director that was more powerful than what was really spoken by the girl executive.
I also left that session with a resolve to never walk into a training session about workplace bullying and culture without’my actors ‘. Yes those actor friends of mine ensure people can easily see what we mean by’within the line’rather than just discussing it. It had been also then that I decided that iHR Australia and iHR Asia would start emphasizing assisting organisations to properly define their workplace cultures in order that leaders could properly articulate that which was meant by way of a desirable, compliant and productive workplace culture that attracts the sort of people we want. Most importantly my actors will give them the opportunity to observe they act every single day features a direct impact on culture and subsequently on performance, compliance, reputation and staff engagement.
Defining workplace culture or just how we do things around here is a fascinating process. It is approximately creating statements that align to organisational values but are far more active. The workplace culture statement is an indicator of the pattern of behaviours we want to see. For example a workplace culture statement arising from the often articulated workplace value’Respect’may be’We pay attention to and analyse the professional views of others ‘,’We pay attention to ideas and views from those around us or’We do not personally attack individuals when giving them professional feedback ‘. When developing’culture statements’you may not cover every behaviour for each and every probable situation, however you leave leaders and employees within the organisation in without doubt what the’indicative behaviours’of the organisations workplace culture are.
Generally, organisations that are taking the time to clearly articulate what the workplace culture should seem like are in reality becoming strategic about workplace culture. That means recognising that workplace culture can be a driving element in achieving organisational goals. They realise that culture can drive a selection of important elements of the organisation. In order to explain the’business’impacts of a great, bad or indifferent workplace culture I’ve identified three key workplace culture regions of impact. Simply I’m saying that workplace culture impacts on:
Organisation, team and individual performance;
Brand perception for current and future employees, customers, stakeholders and business partners;
Compliance, in particular the organisations ability to comply with policies and regulations.
In my own forthcoming articles I will explain precisely why I think workplace culture should really be the main strategic agenda for organisations aiming for sustainable success.
In 2009 once we begin to emerge from the economic recession brought upon predominantly by an industry, and subsequently, workplace cultures where the unacceptable often became acceptable it’s interesting to ask ourselves where business cultures will discover themselves in 2010.
Excited the danger is that leaders will feel compelled to immerse their organisations in practices that reduce risk and drive a conservative rigour that, will in turn, stifle workplace cultures once labelled innovative, responsive and entrepreneurial.
Founding director and CEO of iHR Australia and iHR Asia, Stephen Bell is an entrepreneur, business leader and renowned facilitator. Under his leadership, iHR Australia has established a varied client base which range from government to significantly more than 2000 multi nationals, large corporates, Start Ups/Greenfields and Not-for-Profit organisations across Australia and Asia.