Healthy Workplace Culture
Healthy Workplace Culture has become a buzz word across all levels of business.
However, as I work with business owners and managers on a regular basis I am surprised how many do not have any idea how to define ‘culture’. Many talk about culture as if it is something intangible. Something almost indefinable. They usually know when the culture of a workplace is good or bad. However, few seem to realise that culture is created. The culture in your workplace right now has been created. It did not just happen. It was either created by the leadership of the company, or it has been created by default by various team members over time.
‘Culture’ is “How we do things around here!”
Culture is not the work your business does. Culture is the way you do things while you do the main work of your business. Culture is all the little things done or not done every day, that say to your team (and anyone else who sees) this is acceptable or unacceptable; this is encouraged or discouraged.
Business Leaders either SET or ALLOW the culture
Many business owners and managers do not see themselves as leaders. Others do not understand leadership principles. However, if you have more than one staff member then you have to lead them. Part of leadership is creating healthy workplace culture. If you do not create the culture then after a period of time they will start creating the culture according to how they see things should be done. Every family has a culture. If you let them bring the culture of their family into your workplace it may work, or it may create scenarios which cause all kinds of conflict with the way you would like things done.
Culture develops from the Core Values of the Business Leadership.
Leadership is always far more about example than it is about words. Many companies have been through a process where they write a Business Plan that forces them to write down their Vision and Values. What is written on the page is worthless unless the values come from the life of the business leader. E.g. If a core value of the business is ‘Excellence’ – and the manager is often sloppily dressed, leaves a mess in the lunch room daily and never washes his car – I can guarantee that value of ‘Excellence’ is meaningless.It’s not something real in his life.
Healthy Workplace Culture develops from REAL Core Values that are embodied in the Business Leadership.
If a Manager speaks in an encouraging way it helps set a culture where people feel valued. This can be done even when correcting mistakes and challenging people to do better. If a business owner is harsh on her team members, always pointing out faults and speaking about them behind their backs, an abusive people culture will develop with high staff turnover.
If mistakes are so important that they are always pointed out, spoken about, magnified, then team members learn that it is better to do nothing than make a mistake in this workplace. This will develop a culture where no-one is willing to take initiative for fear of getting things wrong. No-one will be creative, have new ideas or learn new skills just in case it opens the door for criticism.
Other points to note about healthy workplace culture:
- Culture is about unpacking the real core values of a business and really understanding the implications of what they mean for how things are done every day
- Culture is also about knowing what is definitely NOT the culture of this workplace, what behaviours will be actively discouraged.
- Unhealthy workplace culture is destructive not only to people but to a business
- A company that does not have a Culture Statement will find going through the process to develop one a very rewarding experience
- A healthy workplace culture is even more important than salary for reducing staff turnover
For a free 30 minute consultation regarding producing a Culture Statement for your company please call John Drury on +61 405 539025 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For more articles by John Drury check the archives
John is a leadership strategist and thinker who assists leaders unpack vision, make strategic plans, prioritise actions and become the leader who can build highly motivated teams.
To contact John – E: email@example.com
My pleasure Anne
Great Article John,
Culture starts at the top. It is only when leaders realise it is their responsibility to “decide” the culture of their organisation and take the action required, that culture will change towards the positive, collaborative and productive environment which fosters the benefits of an optimised workplace.
Thanks for your comment Naomi. We need to help companies understand this point. It amazes me that some CEO’s want to outsource culture to HR or worse to a consultant.