There are many definitions of culture but the one I like the best was stated by a 5-year-old on an ABC program my daughter was watching. “Culture is the personality of the place you live”. This sums up culture perfectly for her.
So, what’s your workplace’s personality she asks. Is it bright and bubbly? Focused, but with flair? Serious, but still remaining sunny? Or is it a culture that causes employees to feel anxious, unhappy, and non-motivated and where there is frequent interpersonal conflict and an untrusting relationship between managers and employees?
The personality and culture of your workplace really counts. It’s what sets the tone of the workplace, how employees conduct their work and their interactions with each other. It also impacts on how your customers see you.
Your company’s culture is not just about marketing and your customers. It’s also about your employees. If your employees had to describe your internal workplace culture what would they say? Would it be positive? Are you game to ask?
Culture drives performance
A company with a positive and healthy culture will have a workplace where employees are happy, motivated and engaged. There will be open and honest communication between its managers and employees, unproductive conflict would be resolved quickly, and processes and procedures would support and drive productivity.
So, where do we start in improving our workplace’s culture? We’ve all heard the saying “employees don’t leave companies they leave bad managers” and it’s true. If you want to make significant changes to your workplace culture, then you need to start focusing on your management culture.
Research conducted on 200 Australian businesses identified significant gaps between high and low performing businesses on their management culture in the following key areas:
Being self-motivated is a key culture driver. The balance to get right is for managers to lead by example in self-motivation and getting the work done, whilst also allocating time and effort into creating an environment that motivates other people to do their work.
Good Quality Communicators
Managers need to learn how to build a communication style based on openness, commitment and trust. They can do this by improving their questioning, listening, and reflecting and communication skills. If managers can improve their communication outcomes, it will lead to improved decision making and leadership performance.
A one size leadership style does not work for all. Managers need to understand their own natural leadership style and then learn to adapt it to suit those in their teams and the environment.
Businesses don’t make decisions; people do. Managers make decisions every day that have a financial impact on a business. Communication is again core. Communicating with the team about the constraints that impact their decision making, will result in their team being better informed and motivated to support their decisions.
Quality of Planning and Being Organised
This measure is the one that managers scored the worst on. We are all guilty of being time poor but managers need to recognise the impact their lack of time management and planning as on those in their teams.
Management Effectiveness Matters
If the management team doesn’t work effectively then someone must fill the performance gap. If it’s the business owner filling this performance gap, then their focus inevitability becomes daily management rather than growing or working on their business.
As a starting point, a few questions to pose on the efficiency of your management team might be:
1. Do they work well as a team?
2. Does their team work well together?
3. Are they and their teams aligned to the strategic direction of the company?
4. Does each manager understand their management style?
If the answers are no, then it’s time to consider taking a closer look and implementing programs to ensure your managers understand their own strengths and challenges, and that their execution style and alignment is in keeping with the company’s vision. The culture of the business depends on it.