My intent with this blog is to cut through some of the huge amounts of research, theories, case studies and general information around culture and sometimes, a great culture may not actually be in the best interests of an organisation. (Controversial I know!)
We do all know that a work place culture is important. We spend around 50% of our working lives at work and there are a plethora of quotes and recommendations around the importance of a great workplace culture.
Some of the comments we see look like this:
“Our work place is great – I love the people I work with”
“We are like a family – work is my second home”
“Our work culture is one that offers flexibility and autonomy”
All these are seriously cool comments to hear if you are a business leader as we all know that a great culture makes a huge difference and in turn helps with engagement and productivity.
But, there are dangers in creating a great culture!
Before I go on, let’s break two words down to clearly understand where I am getting
1.Work. Work is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as:
“An activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.”
2. Culture. Culture is described as:
“Relating to the ideas, customs, and social behaviour of a society”
With these definitions, can culture increase work?
Well, the short answer is yes, but you must get it right.
From a talent perspective, you need to ensure that when you hire someone into your business, they need to be aligned to the ideas, customs and behaviours of the business – the values, strategy and competencies.
Then, you need to ensure the activities are clear in order for the individual to achieve the purpose or result – clear KPI’s, measures, feedback and conversations.
Get these two aspects correct and this is a great start – the problems arise when one of these things is more prominent than the other.
Scenario One: Work supersedes Culture
Will you get an environment which is focused on results, maybe micro-management exists and employees do not feel valued.
Scenario Two: Culture supersedes work
The results focus simply gets lost!
So, you need to strike a balance: with a great culture comes some interesting warning signs
1. The social element overtakes the grind
2. Distractions become the norm
3. High performing becomes low performing or non-performing
4. Activities and revenue decreases
If you see these warning signs across your organisation here are some tips to help fix the problem:
- Jump on the performance
- Refresh and redefine goals
- Keep the focus on this short term
- Be prepared for the data from the next survey to be lower
- Make corrective actions
Although a great culture is essential, sometimes a great culture should not be the number one priority for a business.
After all, without revenue there is no business and in turn no culture to measure!
Having a similar issue?
General Manager, Consulting