HOW TO SIMPLIFY YOUR APPROACH TO SHAPING CULTURE

Anyone that has a responsibility for sourcing, hiring or developing staff in their organisation is no stranger to the “squeaky wheel” trap – where your attention and energies get sidetracked into attending to those issues that are making the most noise or, in the immediate term, causing the most pain.

It’s understandable and, operationally, it makes sense. However, strategically, it makes little sense at all!

We all know that spending too much time in the “Important and Urgent” space (home of the “squeaky wheel”) usually translates into not spending enough time in the “Important but not Urgent” space (home of planning and forward thinking). The result being that you end up in an almost constant state of putting out spot fires – rather than being prepared for what comes next.

Unless you can develop a more strategic focus you will be consigned to forever wonder why you are working so hard with little to show for it.

(If you are interested in how that could work for you, find out more about the Eisenhower Matrix here: https://todoist.com/productivity-methods/eisenhower-matrix)

Developing organisational culture is an important part of any manager’s responsibilities – especially those in HR but developing culture doesn’t live in that “Important and Urgent” quadrant – it is birthed in the “Important but not Urgent” quadrant.

Often, as a result of too little thought being given to an actual culture development strategy, organisations fall into the trap of attempting to address culture through “tick and flick” initiatives – you would be all too familiar with the “survey” approach to gauging the effectiveness of your people and the teams they operate in. These exist in the here and now, important/urgent space, and certainly go some way to address short term challenges associated with organisational culture but they do little, if anything, to address longer term strategic issues.

Culture surveys, pulse surveys, engagement surveys – the list is long and these are all very well but people get a bit fatigued by too frequent surveys, especially as, most of the time, there is little visible action taken, post survey results being published, which meaningfully improve the workplace and organization culture.

As there is frequently no noticeable change resulting from these initiatives, employees become cynical and may even just provide the survey responses they think management want, creating a management dilemma – given that an engaged workforce delivers higher levels of productivity than a disengaged workforce.

It’s a puzzle as to what to do about the situation as, clearly, to do nothing will not lift productivity. In fact, over time, inaction will end up further reducing productivity levels!

The problem is that a big piece of this puzzle has been missing from the management toolkit in the key areas of staff recruitment, retention and development. Currently, the focus is firmly around people’s technical skills, experience and personality profile.

Why?

Because these areas have well established processes in place which assess these elements.

So why is it then that we find, time after time, people with all the ticks in those boxes simply don’t work out or fit in effectively where they are placed?

The answer…..

Because the puzzle has a missing piece and it’s a huge piece at that!

That missing piece is culture fit – how well a person’s cultural preferences align with the organisation and team they work in is crucial in maximising suitability, engagement and productivity

The challenge, up until now, has been how to identify just what the organisation’s culture (and that of its numerous divisions, departments and teams) looks like and how to articulate that, along with identifying the cultural preferences of its people.

There is no doubt that developing organisational culture is a complex business but there are many aspects of business that are complex and that are dealt with in a manageable fashion. The best way to deal with complexity is to develop a process by which that complexity can be broken down and dealt with.

The same principle applies to developing your culture. Thankfully there is a solution – a solution which assists management to identify workplace culture as well as the ability to articulate what that culture is.

That solution is Culture Shaper, a cost effective, non-disruptive management tool which provides metrics through which key performance indicators can be established to measure progress towards building a more positive culture across the whole of the organisation – person by person, team by team, department by department.

This relatively new concept is the missing piece of the people puzzle which describes the emotional and operative aspects impacting directly on each employee as an individual.

Culture Shaper’s major benefit though is its simplicity. Like all good tools it takes a complex issue that is difficult for most people to address effectively and simplifies that complexity through the establishment of an easy to follow process.

At the heart of that process Culture Shaper has researched culture at work and developed a comprehensive Culture Framework consisting of 43 elements. This allows for the use of a fast and simple Framework template to scope out the ideal Role culture.

This becomes the basis for the “Role Description” which provides the content for more specific conversations and actions. In these days of diversity and inclusion you have to be able to accurately describe the role environment for each of your people – how else can you assess, implement and measure desirable improvements?

You have to be able to create a Role Model – an ideal set of goals to aim for, which can report and measure progress. At its essence this is what Culture Shaper’s Role Description provides.

Once the Role Description is created the Culture Shaper tool creates a questionnaire for employees to complete online which relates to their attitudes, beliefs and values surrounding their workplace. Once that is done the platform algorithms match the employee with their Role Description. All in all, up to 59 sets of values, beliefs and attitudes of employees, bearing on satisfaction and performance, are now identified.

This produces a Role Fit for each individual, enabling objective discussion regarding career, workplace and performance matters bearing on satisfaction and engagement. When managers use this information as a structure for staff development conversations it is likely to result in agreed development pathways for the employee. Additionally, issues regarding the organization are also identified.

Now, more informed decisions can be made around existing policies and practices which may eliminate or modify workplace satisfaction inhibitors. Culture Shaper demystifies issues around culture and uses a vocabulary understandable by all employees, not just HR.

Brand new data becomes available, and the resultant metrics provide management with fresh insights into the roles they are responsible for and the people applying for or filling those roles.

When it comes to organisational culture, generalising about it is not specific enough to generate employee buy-in – you only achieve that through genuine consulting and listening to people and being willing to make strategic or relevant changes at both an individual level as well as team, department and organisation.