What is your organisation’s culture like? Are you sure your team works as a team? Are you constantly surprised at how generous and mutually supportive people in your business are? Or do you feel exasperated that they don’t look out for each other? See here what happens and how you can improve how your team works and how your culture develops.
How Your Team Works Does Matters
As an independent business owner you’ve worked hard to get your business to where it is, and you have gone through the challenges of hiring (and keeping) people. You have been clear on what they do in their daily jobs, but have you been as clear on how they do what they do? It’s often said that “It ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it” and in the world of work (especially independent business) this is particularly true.
When you are in a small team, the way that one person does a task or responds to a customer really stands out. If it stands out as “the way things are done around here”, then it gets copied and becomes normal. That works well when it’s helpful. But what if it’s not?
What Makes Culture
The banking Royal Commission has frequently made reference to culture. And what is culture?
Culture is the patterns of behaviour over time that are encouraged (or not discouraged).
Note the “not discouraged” part because that is really important. Another saying is that “A silent No is a Yes,” meaning that, unless people are told that something is inappropriate or unacceptable, they will assume that it is OK.
As an owner, how well are you and your key managers encouraging the right behaviours and discouraging unhelpful ones?
Things that can seem small in isolation quickly build up and join up with other actions that then create a situation that is undesirable. Three things create and reinforce culture:
- Behaviours – what is done and what is perceived as allowable
- Systems – what processes and systems (including recognition and bonus) are in place
- Symbols – such as who has a car park closest to the door, or who has a desk, or a company paid-for iPad.
You Can’t Ignore Small Stuff
Yes, I know what you are (probably) thinking: who has time? This is all small stuff – am I really expected to check up on these small things? After all, it’s true that you pay your people well and that you went through pain to hire what you thought are the right people.
And let us be clear: we are not talking here about people who intentionally do the wrong thing or steal from you (as in the post by David Grieve, another member of The NCP).
Instead, culture and ways of working are like habits:
Some work habits form after deliberate, focused and consistent actions to create a desired outcome – like a physical fitness routine.
Other ways of working form over time in subtle ways of doing what we see others do. Often we don’t even see the full picture; and repetition and lack of obvious negative consequence can lead to bad habits, just like some of us develop poor eating habits.
Behaviours Can Change
And just like we can change habits, we can change unhelpful behaviours. What we need is to identify the habit; then challenge it; compare to the desired alternative; and finakkly reinforce the better practice over time until it becomes the new habit.
We often see an informal workplace alive with banter and friendly chat as a positive thing. That perception changes when the chat takes more work and productive time than is desirable. It also changes if there is a resignation or a complaint about racist, harassing or bullying interactions.
A fresh set of eyes on your business can help you to see what really is working for you and what isn’t. A new perspective can help you identify what it is going on, and compare it with what you want happening. Certainly, you can find a skilled and trustworthy set of observations, ideas and recommendations within the Network Of Consulting Professionals.
But actually, it all begins by YOU observing, and beginning to really notice the little things that go on. Do you walk on by – or do you pick them up as you see them happening?
If you don’t like what you see, then perhaps it’s time to get that outside perspective and assistance to get your business culture where you need it, if you are to achieve its true potential.
If you’d like that outside perspective and support, contact Pam Macdonald at email@example.com or CLICK TO KNOW MORE