Culture is everywhere. It’s shapes the way we coexist and where we choose to live. It influences our views and values, our humour and hopes, our loyalties and our worries and fears. We want rich cultural experiences in our lives. And we’re increasingly treading similar paths to which we’re spiritually aligned. The culture of the workplace is another component of this human need. In 2018 and beyond enriching workplace cultural experiences at work will become the focus for many, many organisations.
In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein Hollywood scandal, the tipping of the women’s movement and the breaking down of ingrained corporate silence by the ‘silence breakers’ a new wave of accountability will sweep enterprise and business in 2018. Buying silence or retaliation against those that speak out, talks to cultural rot not to cultural harmony, nor does it talk to gender equity and boardrooms across the globe are beginning to understand that culture must come first. CEOs performance from herein must speak to Culture. Culture and Culture.
Workplace culture is more than being the latest start-up with a ping-pong table, Friday drinks, and staff yoga. It has become more about demonstrating to customers and co-workers what’s in it for them and importantly that bringing the whole self to work means being treated with Respect. Employees want to be Respected as equals. Their voices matter. Today’s customers and employees are your collaborators. And these voices are as important as anyone within an organization.
Why Does Workplace Culture Matter So Much?
Asking a person to describe his or her workplace culture is like asking a fish to describe water. The fish isn’t even aware of his environment because he is swimming in it and is completely oblivious to its presence or its importance, for that matter. Human beings are the same way about workplace culture. They are ‘swimming in it’ and are therefore oblivious to its presence and really do have a tough time describing it even if asked a direct question about it.
CEO`s are the champion for workplace culture and it is their job and role to survey, listen, modify where necessary and steer a healthy and safe workplace culture. Productivity and ultimately profits cannot be achieved without a healthy workplace culture.
So what is the best definition for workplace culture so that we have a mutual understanding: Dan Denison, PhD a well-known authority on workplace culture who conducts research and teaches at the University of Michigan puts forward the following definition:
“The underlying values, beliefs and principles that serve as a foundation for an organization’s management system as well as the practices and behaviours that both exemplify and reinforce those basic principles.”
In a nutshell then, workplace culture establishes the norms of behaviour and shared values of an organization. It’s really ‘how one gets along around here’. But, why does it matter what kind of workplace cultures we develop? It matters because truly high performance cultures and/or subcultures (subsidiaries, divisions, departments and teams) have three very compelling attributes:
- They consistently produce outstanding results
- They attract, motivate and retain top talent
- They successfully adapt to changing conditions
Outmoded brands struggle to find that balance. Their traditional approaches pit one pack of wolves against another. And within that, you have lone wolves competing for more – classic capitalism.
All the while, a dollar-centric push from the top stifles any sense of culture and wellbeing without considering the power of good business vs. merely profit.
Before our workplaces embrace good business, they must reject their ingrained know-it-all position and embrace the art of learning. Then, they’ll own their mishaps instead of blaming others. And competition will become collaboration. Over time, these businesses can shift from a power-at-the-top system to a dynamic of mutual empowerment.
We should continually question our reasons for doing things in business and we should call out bad behaviour always. The notion that a whistleblower is subjected to harsh and to sometimes vindictive retribution will now boomerang onto those who seek to quash the silence breakers.
Here’s to the ‘silence breakers’. And here’s to the corporate leaders in 2018 who will take this wave of global sentiment and empower their own organisations to stand up and speak out so that these archaic behaviours objectifying women across many, many industries is made redundant.