Organisational Culture : Have You Got it Right?

 

Having worked in the theme park industry for the last 15 years, I really learnt the importance of workplace culture and how, if treated right, it can be the key driver for everything else in the business.  Businesses exist to make a profit, but they can take a variety of routes to get there.  When thinking about what route to take there is a great saying to consider “how can you expect your customers to love your company if your staff don’t love it first?”.

Think of workplace culture as a motor vehicle.  A vehicle is simply a means of getting somewhere.  The driver can take passengers and together they can enjoy the journey as they head towards a destination.  There will be compliance issues (registration, wof’s, police checks), obstacles (road works, slips), difficult decisions around what direction to take (depends on the destination!) and so on, but they navigate and negotiate these together to stay on track.  A vehicle carries people, but when you think about it, so does organisational culture.

Using this analogy in a business sense, the destination is equivalent to the vision of the company (where you’d like to end up), the vehicle is the means of getting there or the strategic plan, the driver is the leader (business owner or CEO) alongside other front seat passengers (senior leadership team).  The other passengers in the car represent the engaged employees.

The feeling in the car or the way people are singing along to the music represents the strategic alignment of the team, all singing off the same song sheet.  The group of people left behind or getting out of the car are the disengaged employees.

It is often said that ‘Culture is King’.  The staff culture will set the platform for the customer experience, so the question needs to be asked ‘have we done everything we can from an organisational perspective to provide the framework, foundation and culture for our staff to excel?’

I learnt very quickly that the way you treat your people, particularly when in a leadership position, will either positively or negatively fuel an organisational culture.  The leadership style will influence the way others in the company express themselves and whatever those behaviours are, whether positive of negative, will eventually become normalised behaviours through the organisation.

Get the organisational culture right and everything else will follow.

Chris Deere – The Alternative Board Auckland South

 

How A Positive Company Culture Is Built By Aligning Employees

Every organisation comes with a unique culture, a set of agreed-upon values that govern the way the company does business. Some cultures grow with the company and others are laid out in the first draft of the business plan. Either way, it’s important that everyone involved—from senior leader to customer-facing employees—consistently operates by those values.

How well are your employees aligned with your company’s culture?

One good yardstick by which to measure this is, actually, a negative on—the rate of turnover and the departure of your best workers. If a star performer leaves occasionally and the rest of the workforce remains steady, it’s not necessarily a cause for concern. But if there’s a string of high-visibility departures, it could be a clear warning sign that employees aren’t aligned with your culture—and something needs to be done. How can corporate culture be changed?

Here are action steps you can take to form a stronger alignment between employees and your company culture:

Be transparent.

The word “transparency” gets tossed around a lot these days, but the concept has very real value when it comes to retaining and inspiring your best workers. In these uncertain times, it’s important to keep people informed about changes in the organisation, those already in the implementation stage and those being considered. The alternative—a workplace rife with suspicions, rumours, and guesswork about the future—is bad across the board, and certainly not in keeping with healthy workplace culture.

Take every opportunity to communicate with your team about organisational change, whether through email messages, all-staff meetings, one-on-one discussions, etc. Your employees can be trusted to support change when they understand what’s going on “behind the scenes.”

Draw upon your internal team leaders.

Most companies have within their workforce a handful of individuals who demonstrate outstanding leadership abilities. These employees should be viewed as “co-creators of change” or “opinion leaders,” writes BCBusiness—individuals who “make or break the client experience.” Draw upon these exemplary individuals “who model your desired performance” and find ways for them to inspire co-workers and build cultural alignment from within.

Hire for a cultural fit.

When a new position opens up, naturally you want to hire an individual with the skills and experience needed to fill that role. But larger considerations should be addressed, as well. If your company values collaboration, for example, it’s not necessarily good to hire a person whose background clearly indicates that he or she likes to “go it alone.” They might not align well with your culture.

As part of the interview process, ask questions of every individual about organisational culture, particularly their views on cultural elements already in place in your company. Your decision could be influenced by how they answer those questions.

Honour and celebrate examples of cultural alignment.

When an employee or team performance leads to a significant milestone—and that performance grows out of your company’s culture—make a big deal out of it.

Honour those involved in a public setting, but also promote their story in your written and online communications. Framing the achievement in a culture-supporting narrative lets everyone else in the company better understand the values you uphold. It’s also important as a way of sharing this news with potential job candidates who want to learn more about your culture before applying for a position.

Organisational culture is an intangible element in a company’s success. But it’s unquestionably a key element, one worthy of every leader’s time and attention. Defining and managing cultural alignment “is crucial to creating a healthy environment for employees to remain engaged,” notes Forbes, “inspiring performance, organically attracting the best talent and driving high profitability.”

 The Alternative Board knows that culture is a key component of thriving business. When we surveyed business owners in our PULSE Survey: What makes a culture strong, they identified areas that were essential in creating employee alignment of company culture

 
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