In my latest book The People Manager’s Toolkit I describe what it takes to deliberately create the workplace culture we want. Among the most critical priorities I argue is our ability to not only face current reality but also to recognise the steps it will take to create change. “Once you intimately understand the culture you want, next you need to recognise the gaps between where you are now and where you want to be.” With this understanding then you can map the road most likely to take you there.
All too often however the leaders we work with are hesitant to honestly confront the difference or distance between their vision and current reality? As I share in The People Manager’s Toolkit “over the years, I have worked with a lot of managers who are on the one hand eager to improve their team culture but on the other hesitant to face reality honestly. Often motivated by fear of exposing problems they will then have to deal with, these managers avoid the issue altogether. Although certainly not always the case, some managers are simply reluctant to hear the things people might say about their management style or approach.”
It is not at all uncommon for leaders to ask my team and I to help them shift their team’s culture when their own values and behaviours are the most obvious contributing factor and ultimately what need to change. As difficult as it may feel in the moment, managers need to face the truth about the impact they personally have on the culture of their team or business. The way the most senior person chooses to behave, the decisions they make and actions they take, is the primary driver of culture in any organisation.
Coaching leaders to adapt their thinking and approach is often the only way we can help them to achieve their own culture change objectives. Having the courage to honestly confront this reality is understandably very tough but absolutely necessary if success is to be achieved. How well do you influence the culture of your own team or business? Use the table below to rate areas in which you are strong, doing ok or need to improve in order to have the influence on your team’s culture that you need to.
- To what extent have you taken ownership for the culture that currently exists in your team or the one you need to create?
- Are you a consistently good example of how you want other people to behave?
- How much importance do you place on team culture? For example have you taken the time to honestly reflect on current reality and do you have plans in place to ensure your culture enables achievement of your vision and strategy?
- At the end of the day to what extent do you hold yourself and other people accountable for behaving in line with clearly articulated behavioral expectations?