What is ‘Workplace Culture’? There are many different definitions of workplace culture, however they all generally agree that collective experience, routine, beliefs, values, goals, rituals, j argon and systems all go into making up a workplace ‘culture’. It’s how an organisation carries out it’s business on a day to day basis, it’s ‘the way we do things around here’. A more formal definition is: ‘The specific collection of values and norms that are shared by people and groups in an organization and that control the way they interact with each other and with stakeholders outside the organization.’Charles W. L. Hill, and Gareth R. Jones, (2001)
What is ‘Workplace Culture’? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s O2vNyBroco&feature=related Let’s take a few minutes to learn about Workplace Culture (also known as Corporate Culture)
Why is it important? Workplace Culture is often the hidden factor that can substantially impact on an organisations profitability, growth potential and it’s ability to quickly adapt to changing conditions in the business environment.
‘Types of Workplace Cultures’ Most organisations overall workplace cultures will fall into 1 of 4 different cultural structures: 1.Power Culture 2.Role Culture 3.Task Culture 4.Person Culture
‘Which Type Do We Look Like?’ Power Culture – power is controlled by an individual or small group, usually found in small to medium sized organisations. Little delegation of decision making authority, personal relationships with the individual or small group which controls the power matter more than formal position within the organisation. Role Culture – Typical hierarchical in structure, people have clearly delegated authority for decision making. Power comes from position held in the organisation and is regulated by procedures and policy. Task Culture – team based approach to completing tasks, power derives from expertise and these cultures often have multiple lines of reporting. Person Culture – this type of structure is more commonly found in non-profit organisations where the person is the ‘face’ and driving force behind operations of the organisation.
But What’s Our Workplace Culture ? An assessment process can be undertaken to determine what the current workplace culture is. Some of the methods commonly used are anonymous employee surveys, observation, interviews, focus groups and customer surveys where applicable.
The Seen & Unseen Culture ? Just like an iceberg the majority of workplace culture is ‘hidden’, it’s the unwritten rules, behaviours and accepted ways of doing things that can be difficult to identify, but it’s these intangible aspects of workplace cultural ‘norms’ that can be the most detrimental and the hardest to change. What are some examples ?
Our Workplace Culture is….. What now? Once a good understanding of what the workplace culture looks like has been achieved the aspects of the current culture that have been identified as being detrimental or that need to be improved can then be addressed through the use of change management techniques.
So Where Do We Start?Changing a Workplace Culture takes time, there are no ‘quick fixes’ and aswidespread cultural change is notoriously hard to achieve it is recommendedthat only the most critical cultural changes are attempted first.As the culture change filters down to the individual employee level and itbecomes established as the new cultural ‘norm’ other less critical culturalchanges can be implemented.So, how do we go about implementing a workplace culture change? …..
The ‘Nut’s & Bolt’sWidely accepted as an effective technique for change managementis John Kotter’s ‘8 Steps to Successful Change Management’1. Create a sense of urgency2. Pull together the Guiding Team3. Develop the Change Vision & Strategy4. Communicate for Understanding and Buy-in5. Empower Others to Act6. Produce Short-Term Wins7. Don’t Let Up8. Making the Change Stick
The ‘8 Steps’1. Create a sense of urgencyThere must be a clear and compelling reason for cultural change, for example: The organisation has been working the same way for so long that it’s become detrimental to the company’s ability to adapt to marketplace changes and to being competitive within it’s industry environment. Merger with another company requires two different workplace cultures to be amalgamated into one that is healthy to the continued growth and productivity of the organisation
The ‘8 Steps’2. Pull Together the Guiding TeamCultural change must be enacted from the top down, therefore thesenior executive team must take ownership for driving the changeand be committed to consistently and obviously modelling thecultural shift they want to see in others, to ‘walk the talk’ otherwise itwill be viewed by employees as just another company ‘fad’, that hasno real substance.
The ‘8 Steps’3. Develop the Change Vision and Strategy.A clear and unambiguous vision & strategy statement developed thatexplains why the culture change is needed, how it aligns with thecorporate vision and mission and how it’s going to be undertaken andthe expected benefits to both the organisation and to employees.
The ‘8 Steps’4. Communicate for Understanding and Buy-In.Take the time and make the effort to communicatethe cultural change vision & strategy to allemployee’s, encourage feedback and suggestionsto gain buy-in and ensure the change strategy isflexible enough to adapt & incorporate any usefulcontributions from employees.Workshops or team building activities that focus onthe behaviours & values that are desired in thenew cultural shift. Slogans on company literatureor other items that encapsulate the new culture.Discuss in daily conversations, demonstrate thenew culture in every activity undertaken.
The ‘8 Steps’5. Empower Others to Act Recognise and reward people for making the cultural change happen. Look for the ‘resisters’ and take the time to help them see the reasons for the change. Remove any obstacles that are hindering the change, ie outdated or contradictory procedures or structures.
The ‘8 Steps’6. Produce Short-Term WinsCultural change can be given a ‘jump start’ byaddressing the tangible components of the changestrategy, for instance the re-organisation of theoffice layout, goals that can be achieved early andwith visible success will help keep the momentumgoing and can help sway the ‘detractors’ to comeonboard.
The ‘8 Steps’7. Don’t Let UpDon’t lose focus or your change process will ‘run outof steam’, cultural change takes time and thecommitment to the change process must not becomestalled or die off over time. Continuous support by theorganisations leaders will ensure that the cultural shiftbecomes the new norm and that it doesn’t revert backto the old pattern of undesirable culture.
The ‘8 Steps’8. Making the Change StickMake the new culture part of every aspect of theorganisation, to recruitment, processes, performanceappraisals, and company core values. Make sure thateveryone ‘walks the talk’.
In SummaryAffecting a cultural shift in the workplace is one of themost difficult change processes an organisation canundertake. Being able to accurately & honestlyevaluate the current culture is highly important tobeing able to successfully initiate a workplace culturechange.Equally important is management’s commitment tothe change process and they’re ability to sustain thatcommitment over the period required to engender acultural shift; this is key to a successful outcome.Without these two factors in place at the start of theprocess there is a high probability of failure.
In Summary Careful planning, ensuring a high level of employee ‘buy in’, recognising & celebrating the achievements at each stage, clear and regular communication and most importantly of all ‘Walking the Talk’ will help make the culture change in the workplace an achievable reality.