There is no question that the cultural environment within which we work has a profound impact on our energy and the way we choose to behave. In my latest book The People Manager’s Toolkit I encourage leaders to contemplate their own experiences of workplace cultures that have either enabled or undermined their ability to succeed.
“Think for a moment how often you have worked in an atmosphere that inspires you to be better than you are or to achieve more ambitious goals. When, if ever have you experienced a culture that motivated you to be loyal despite constant challenges and battles in your job? When have you worked in or witnessed a team with a culture that sapped enthusiasm or lowered the bar on what was possible for everyone in the group?”
Often described as the personality of a business, culture is simply the way things are typically done. Created from the collective behaviours of people in a given setting or group, culture is not about the way things should be in theory but about the way they are in practice. The decisions made, the priorities set, the actions taken — all provide insight into the culture of a team or business.
While most people managers I meet appreciate its importance many struggle to take control and directly influence the culture of their team or business. In the People Manager’s Toolkit I share not only how to create the culture most likely to enable optimal performance but also what success looks like. Here are some direct measures of success I encourage leaders to reflect on:
- People consistently behave in ways that are aligned with the values of your business
- Trust, respect, integrity and accountability are reflected in your cultural values
- Your staff stay because they love working for your business and don’t want to go anywhere else
- You have a strong reputation in the market for being the kind of place where people want to work
- Prospective employees proactively seek out opportunities to work with you
- Understand and face your current reality: be honest with yourself about the culture that currently exists and purposely work to shift undesirable behaviours
- Set clear expectations: make sure every person on your team understands how you expect them to behave
- Drive from the top: leading by example is unquestionably important. The quickest way to undermine your culture management efforts is to fail to ‘walk your talk’
- Make it matter: there is little point setting expectations and then failing to hold people accountable. Reward and recognize people for not only what they achieve but also how they go about it