Bad cultures are found in places where management makes decisions behind closed doors and where managers fail to address issues affecting the workforce. Poor company culture breeds low morale, high turnover, loss of productivity and, finally, a potentially devastating loss of profits. This is why reinventing a poor culture is a priority for CEOs.
Marie-Claire Ross, director at Digicast Productions says high performing workplaces are unified and have everyone working together as a team. They have no 'us versus them' mentality. Also, there has to be compassionate leadership. That means creating a workplace where there are visible signs that staff are highly valued by the organisation. That comes down even to things like a tidy, clean kitchen and toilet area, clean workspaces and operational equipment, clean and functional Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and happy staff working together. All that sends out the message that only safe and productive behaviours are tolerated and that staff personal needs are being taken into account.
“Finally, we have the final step that communicates the other two areas but in a transparent, predictable manner,’’ Ross says. “This is where communication connects staff emotionally to the information by using stories and metaphors. Communication must be regular and honest. Woe betide any CEO who dares to announce that safety is important, but in a later announcement declares that due to poor sales, the safety budget is going to be cut. Messages must always be believable and free from hypocrisy.”
Nicole Fallon at Business News Daily says CEOs need to first of all remove hierarchies. She says hierarchy creates an us versus them attitude and creates an atmosphere of intimidation and inhibits the free flow of ideas. She says CEOs also have to empower and trust employees to make the right decisions.
“The benefits of trusting and empowering others far outweigh the fear that mistakes will be made,” Fallon says. “Pick the top two to three things that are most important for you to do in one day, and then let your team handle the rest. It is important for the entire company to know that they are an integral part of the company's success. Control outcomes, not behaviours.”
And finally, the most important change is to listen to those who are part of the culture. They have to create the type of environment where employees feel comfortable enough to reach out, no matter their status within the company.
Then there are tools CEOs can uses. For example, 15/5 sends out a series of questions to team members weekly which they are required to fill out. People can be asked about how they went about their priorities the previous week, what wins they had, what challenges they encountered and what some of their ideas might be to make things better.
Another good tool is TinyPulse which seeks feedback from people in all areas.
The importance of these tools is that they are engaging the workforce for the first time and that’s an important step to changing the culture, turning it into one that’s inclusive for all.
How have you changed cultures?