CULTURE EATS STRATEGY FOR BREAKFAST
Morale is low. There seems to be no motivation. The team is not performing. It’s a common complaint that I am getting from prospective clients. It could be the time of year, or it could be that I am working with businesses that have grown too quickly, where changes have taken place or where the business is simply plateauing. The issue is around the workplace environment and culture.
They say culture eats strategy for breakfast. You can have amazing plans and strategies in place to grow your business, but without a culture conducive to achieving these goals, you will never move forward.
If you don’t consciously manage your workplace culture, the culture will be allowed to emerge on its own, and is likely to be counterproductive.
Culture guides workplace behaviour where the employee handbook leaves off. It guides behaviour when the boss is not in the room. It guides how your employees handle unprecedented challenges or requests. And that is what will make or break your strategies.
So how do we consciously manage the workplace culture?
Benchmark the current culture
Like any challenge in life that we need to overcome, the first step is to acknowledge that there is a problem. Stop burying your head in the sand and moaning without taking action. The fish rots from the head, so as a business owner or leader, you need to lead from the front and set the tone. To move forward, you need to understand where you are currently.
The best way to do this is to conduct an anonymous Workplace Culture Audit. We use an online survey to assess the employees’ opinions and perceptions of the environment and the leadership of the business. For the audit to be successful, it needs to be conducted by an independent third party who will collate the information in an unbiased fashion. The employees need to understand that this is an attempt to uncover some of the challenges in the business, so they can be rectified and improved for the benefit of everyone. It needs to be driven and spearheaded by the leader of the business. It needs to be anonymous in order to encourage open and honest feedback. The comments from employees need to be constructive, rather than a forum for complaints and disparaging remarks.
An effective Workplace Culture Audit will identify cultural, operational, management and leadership issues as well as communication hotspots. Once you diagnose the issues, you can work out what actions to implement and where to focus your efforts to improve the environment that your team is expected to perform in.
What constitutes an effective, productive workplace culture?
A shared vision and goals
A shared vision and goals gives everyone purpose and a reason to show up and perform. A strong vision will guide every decision that an employee needs to make, and the stronger and more meaningful the vision, the more apparent the decision will be.
When everyone knows what the business stands for, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, it guides the appropriate and required behaviour. Having strong values in place will dictate who you hire in the first place. When everyone understands the rules of the game, they play nicely in the sandpit.
Most employees are positive, happy and motivated individuals – except when they are at work! Without a positive vibe in the workplace, you are unlikely to have happy employees. And when your employees are unhappy, you are unlikely to have happy customers. When your customers are unhappy, you are unlikely to have a business! Positivity in the workplace means supporting and inspiring one another at work, avoiding blame, forgiving mistakes, treating each other with respect, trust, gratitude and integrity and celebrating the wins and successes.
Let’s be honest… you can’t achieve your personal and business goals without the help of your employees. If you had to ask your employees a simple question… Do you wake up looking forward to going to work every day? What would they say?
If your workplace environment is toxic, if your employees are demotivated and staff morale is low, or if you simply want to work out where to focus your efforts to improve your environment, start consciously managing the workplace culture with a Workplace Culture Audit.
We are here to help!