Workplace Culture is the way we do things around here – and it creates an atmosphere that impacts on business performance, compliance, reputation and staff engagement.
From the around the turn of the century I was doing a briefing (as a consultant) for a small team of executives from a professional firm. We were debating building fantastic workplace culture what happens to be workplace bullying. All of the senior team were getting passionately involved in the discussion. A female executive who had been not passionately involved and obviously quite annoyed about the full time it was taking to go over this kind of’ineffectual’matter stood up and blurted’Actually all I do want to know is how far I can go before we call it bullying ‘. No unreasonable question but perhaps it was having less thought and sarcastic tone in the delivery that drove me to react (and quite unprofessionally I might add)’Well how far do you intend to go?’ I replied. And in addition she responded:’Well that’s what we’re paying you to inform us Stephen Bell-HR Expert!’ Suddenly I was caught in the battle. There were some smirks, giggles and’oh yeahs’from 1 or 2 of the ten executives that were sitting around the table. Each of an immediate I had been hit head on by’the way we do things around here.’
This was, in fact, an chance for the Regional Director to operate and indicate the organisational values. This was an chance for the HR executive to create a speech about causeing the an engaging workplace for people and the lines should be drawn by the worthiness of our values. And then I, Stephen Bell (HR Expert!) could recite the definitions outlined in local OH&S guidelines. None with this happened. I did lamely recite the values probably with a quarter the conviction the Regional Director may have and encouraged them to show to page 20 within their manuals where they might find the area definition of workplace bullying.
The Regional Director and HR Director remained relatively silent; the discussion lasted another 20 minutes before all of us cordially shook hands and splintered off inside our different directions to lead our completely different lives. I left with a certain feeling about 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 was not said by the Regional Director and HR Director that was stronger than what was really spoken by the lady executive.
I also left that session with a resolve never to enter a training session about workplace bullying and culture without’my actors ‘. Yes those actor friends of mine ensure people could see what we mean by’over the line’rather than simply discussing it. It absolutely was also then that I decided that iHR Australia and iHR Asia would start concentrating on assisting organisations to properly define their workplace cultures so that leaders could properly articulate what was meant with a desirable, compliant and productive workplace culture that attracts the type of people we want. Moreover my actors will give them the ability to observe how they act each day includes a direct affect culture and subsequently on performance, compliance, reputation and staff engagement.
Defining workplace culture or the way we do things around here is an appealing process. It is about creating statements that align to organisational values but are far more active. The workplace culture statement can be an indicator of the pattern of behaviours we want to see. As an example a workplace culture statement arising from the often articulated workplace value’Respect’may be’We tune in to and analyse the professional views of others ‘,’We tune in 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 might not cover every behaviour for each and every probable situation, but you leave leaders and employees within the organisation in without doubt what the’indicative behaviours’of the organisations workplace culture are.
In general, organisations that are finding the time to clearly articulate what the workplace culture should look like are actually becoming strategic about workplace culture. Which means recognising that workplace culture can be quite a driving aspect in achieving organisational goals. They realise that culture can drive a range of important components of the organisation. In order to explain the’business’impacts of an excellent, bad or indifferent workplace culture I have identified three key workplace culture aspects of impact. Simply I am 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 power to comply with policies and regulations.
In my own forthcoming articles I’ll explain exactly why I believe workplace culture should be part of the strategic agenda for organisations aiming for sustainable success.
In 2009 even as we begin to emerge from the economic recession brought upon predominantly by an industry, and subsequently, workplace cultures where in actuality the unacceptable often became acceptable it is interesting to ask ourselves where business cultures will see themselves in 2010.
Anticipating the danger is that leaders will feel compelled to immerse their organisations in practices that reduce risk and drive a conservative rigour that, will subsequently, stifle workplace cultures once labelled innovative, responsive and entrepreneurial.
Founding director and CEO of iHR Australia and iHR Asia, Stephen Bell can be an entrepreneur, business leader and renowned facilitator. Under his leadership, iHR Australia has established a diverse client base including government to a lot more than 2000 multi nationals, large corporates, Start Ups/Greenfields and Not-for-Profit organisations across Australia and Asia.