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Why should you give two hoots about Workplace Culture?

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

Your marketing and branding attracts customers.

Your workplace culture attracts and retains staff.


In New Zealand, there is a widely held belief that culture is organic and will form without guidance or direction, that it cannot be engineered, and that it just happens.


To a degree, that premise is correct.


Culture will happen whether you want it to or not.


However, due to that mindset the culture in a lot of NZ workplaces is nothing more than the behavioural norms that have built up over the years, influenced by various strong personalities in your business, and resulting in unspoken and unwritten rules for working together.


Unwritten and unspoken.


Imagine if your financial strategy was unwritten or unspoken. Your sales strategy? Your organisational structure? Or your annual reporting process?


Why should I care about Workplace Culture?


Culture should not be about what your organisation tolerates, but rather what your organisation fosters and encourages.


It is what makes your business unique and is the sum of its values, beliefs, interactions, traditions, behaviours, and attitudes. It is an influential driver in your team’s productivity, motivation, and attitude every day.


I understand some people find it hard to comprehend the difference between workplace culture and the mission statement, vision or values poster on your boardroom wall.


I have found two ways to understand workplace culture:

  • for those with an operational or process oriented mindset: culture is operationalisation of your organisational values.

  • for those with a people-focused mindset: culture to an organisation is what personality is to an individual.

What impact does it really have on my day to day business?


Organisations with a successful company culture will produce growth in all important metrics. Below are some hallmarks of successful company cultures:


1. Communication: Effective communication patterns focusing on information being disseminated with clarity, courtesy, and proactivity.

2. Feedback: A culture of delivering actionable feedback and expecting feedback in return provides improved performance.

3. Purpose: If your culture has a clear sense of purpose, leaders and employees have strong guidance and support for immediate and long-term goals.

4. Diversity: An environment where all members of society can feel welcomed, included, and supported, creating a more engaged workforce who are proud to represent your brand.

5. Engagement: Engaged employees are more productive and committed, they are satisfied at the workplace and have no issue with going the extra mile to help their company thrive.

6. Growth and Development: Businesses with successful company cultures provide opportunities for growth. Over and above job essential training, they offer personal development opportunities as a matter of course.

7. Teamwork: The heart of all culture is teamwork. Creating, enhancing, and celebrating how you work together and share success.


Ok, you’ve convinced me – but where do I start?


In my opinion the best place to start is by finding out exactly what your established team want to feel when they come to work each day.


And how do you find out that?


Ask them!


I hear a few people in the audience gasping already… ‘that’s too touchy feely’ ‘how do they know what they want?’ ‘it’s my business and my reputation on the line, I just want them to do their job’


That’s exactly where we come in.


Instead of hearing that your workers want a pay rise now, a bonus at the end of the year and an early knock off on Friday, our job is to facilitate a conversation that gets to the true heart of what they want to feel when that alarm clock goes off on a Monday morning.


In all honesty, most employees have no idea until you ask them directly and give them tools to guide their understanding. We have a fun little card game that turns what can be a pretty deep and challenging session into a constructive and enlightening couple of hours.


I am hosting workshops in Invercargill, Queenstown, and Christchurch between now and Christmas to support leaders and managers on this journey, for only $10 with 50% going to charity. You don’t have to be the big boss, you don’t even have to be the little boss - if you want to be able to name and communicate how you want to feel at work, and how to get the best out of each and every day - I recommend coming along.


At the end of this workshop, you will have defined your own personal needs within your workplace culture, what behaviours can support success, and how to manage and cope with those that detract from this.


Our hope is that leaders return to their workplace with passion and a clear process on how to define their collective team and organisational culture.


Keep in mind that culture is always a work in progress.