In today’s pandemic and post pandemic environment, the way we work is being questioned by large numbers of people. Workplace culture and how it drives organisational performance has become a critical issue. Diversity of thinking has also become crucial in an uncertain and ambiguous world, where the ability to adapt quicky has become a survival capability of organisations. We are driven to consider how a positive workplace culture, that is inclusive of the many, will help us attract and retain talented people in a time of shortages and choice.
Power is in the hands of employees, they choose us, in a post pandemic time.
So here are my 5 tips for creating sustainable and effective workplace cultures:
TIP 1: Leaders are ‘super spreaders’ of culture
We most easily ‘catch’ culture through leaders. People are ‘infected’ by the tone set by leaders, whether its toxic or positive and whether they do something or they do nothing. Whether they recognise it or they do not.
Leaders are called on to ask themselves the question ‘Do I understand, and am I consciously shaping, the shadow that I cast?’
TIP 2: Watch your Language
As ‘position’ is to real estate, ‘language’ is to culture. Watch it, guard it, manage it, shape it. It is the greatest carrier of culture and its effects cannot be underestimated.
TIP 3: Hardwire the soft stuff
Hardwire the culture you want into organisational systems, particularly the people system. Hire, separate, reward, recognise, remunerate, make hard decisions based on culture. Do artefacts reflect the culture?
TIP 4: A culture of inclusivity solves for a few things
Diversity is about diversity of thinking – we know that homogeneous groups don’t solve problems as effectively as diverse groups. We know that there is less robust thinking, less innovation and more complacency with homogeneous groups. We know we need different thinking to evolve and continuously adapt to a changing external environment. We know that different thinking stops unconscious bias in its tracks. Where is it systematically structured into your workplace practices?
TIP 5: Save money and hold the posters, coffee cups and tag lines
We now know that they don’t cut it for culture building. In fact, they work against it as they blur accountability and take us off the hook. We become distracted with activity, instead of outcomes. We forget to realise that nothing has changed. Leaders create culture and are accountable for creating the right culture. Hardwire that culture into the system.
About Gail Symons
Gail Symons consults on Organisational Culture and Organisational Design, leveraging a career in a variety of People and Culture leadership roles. Additionally, her lived experiences, academic credentials, organisational know-how and track record allows her to bring a unique perspective to diversity and inclusion initiatives that organisations wish to engage in. Gail offers leadership coaching, including for People and Culture leaders, as they are often the ‘coach the coaches’ and need professional nourishment themselves.
If you’d like an introduction to Gail to discuss your D&I strategy, then please ask Tim to put you in touch.