Creating a warm and expressive environment at work
- 3 Min Read
I view a company’s structure as it’s body, and it’s culture as its spirit. The body needs the spirit in much the same way as a radio needs electricity – in order to function. In a regular column, Jenny Garrett discusses the importance of work culture.
Electricity brings a radio to life; in the same way the spirit does with organisation. The spirit is invisible, but is always present and has a profound impact on organisations.
What’s interesting is that culture exists regardless of whether you realise it or not and whether you chose to create and shape it. It’s a dangerous route not to try and shape it though, as it defines for you and for others, how your organisations does business, how you interact with one another, and how the team interacts with the outside world, such as your customers, employees, partners, suppliers, media and other stakeholders.
Research undertaken by Denison and Mishra, showed that certain culture traits can be used as predictors of an organisations performance and effectiveness. A positive culture sustains employee enthusiasm and happy employees means more productivity and lower turnover. So how do you shape the spirit of your organisation and create a warm and expressive culture where all can thrive? Here are my are my top tips
When employees have a real sense of purpose, they feel connected to the organisation and are more likely to do their best work. They are fulfilled because their values are aligned with what the organisation wants to achieve. This starts at the recruitment stage, your organisation should be able to clearly, briefly, using a few short phrases and images communicate its purpose. This will help the potential employee explore if this purpose could motivate them to do their best work.
When is the last time you congratulated someone for living the culture of your organisation? Too often we focus our lens on what is going wrong and trying to correct it, rather than what is going right and trying to do more of it. If culture is important to your company’s success, find ways to have a lens on your culture and publicly recognise individuals or teams that embody and demonstrate what your culture is and aspires to be. Others will pick up on it and be motivated to receive the same recognition, and also be reminded of what the culture is and looks like in practice.
Enabling employees to be free to be themselves benefits everyone. Many organisations espouse to do this but are challenged by individual’s unconscious or conscious bias and competition amongst employees. Research from Catalyst has shown that inclusive cultures maximise the potential of all staff, enables the organisation to remain competitive and innovative, attract the best talent and clients, and makes staff happy. Creating a culture that is inclusive can take effort, in terms of personal behaviours, it’s about making everyone feel important, being genuinely interested in others, not criticising, condemning or complaining. Some things that you could do immediately are rotate who runs meetings, talk about things other than work and bounce ideas off someone unexpected in your office, all ways to show that that everyone contribution matters.
According to Frei and Morriss:
“Culture guides discretionary behaviour and it picks up where the employee handbook leaves off. Culture tells us how to respond to an unprecedented service request. It tells us whether to risk telling our bosses about our new ideas, and whether to surface or hide problems. Employees make hundreds of decisions on their own every day, and culture is our guide. Culture tells us what to do when the CEO isn’t in the room, which is of course most of the time”
Don’t you owe it to yourself and your organisation to get it right?