“The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team.” - Phil Jackson
Have you ever been in a team or attended a party, a dinner, a function or a similar event that you just didn’t want to be part of? You know the place you didn’t enjoy and couldn’t wait to leave. Imagine if that was your workplace day in day out? It’d be awful, wouldn’t it?
Before we venture into defining great workplace cultures, what can we learn from the past? History is littered with management principles that were going to revolutionise the environment in which we work in. While some were successful, a broader application wasn’t always successful. To name a few, think of: Management By Objectives, Total Quality Management, Business Process Re-engineering, Six Sigma, Lean, Lean Six Sigma, Hot Desking etc.
Agile is the latest “popular” approach that’s going mainstream with companies like ANZ Bank, Telstra and AGL adopting it. I might get lynched for saying this but Agile simply won’t work in all organisations. More on that another time…
What makes a great workplace culture?
Well, it’s definitely not from sugar coating like a funky looking open workspace, a games room, fancy names on rooms or Post-it Notes on walls. It’s something far more fundamental than that.
People want to be part of a culture or a team that’s enjoyable, stimulating and rewarding to be part of. When questioned, how would most of your colleagues respond to:
Do I feel connected to what we’re trying to achieve?
Do I feel as though I can be successful?
Do I enjoy what I do?
Do I feel supported?
Do I support others?
Do we work together well as a team?
Do I enjoy coming to work?
Do I resist change?
Great workplace cultures are an environment the people who work there rave about. They’re able to describe to their friends how great it is. Great workplace cultures are based on the behaviours that people do day in day out.
It’s the simple things that prevent this
Workers need the tools and techniques to survive and thrive. To be the best version of themselves, to let their personality and confidence shine. This doesn’t happen when there are:
Insufficient hours each day/week to get everything done
Long hours being worked
Targets not being achieved
Workers feeling overwhelmed
Limited returns for the time invested ie. dollars earned versus hours input or integrating work, family and wellbeing
When there are enough workers who frequently experience the above then there’s the groundswell of an undesirable culture.
What to do?
Where to start isn’t really complicated. Alleviate workload pressure by providing workers with the tools, techniques and support to get their work done easily.
Great workplace cultures aren’t made up of workers who are struggling to keep up with demands. Instead, they consist of workers who have learnt and developed the behaviours to achieve outcomes in less time. Equip them correctly to unlock their potential and amplify their impact.
Workers who are achievers and believers play a critical role in driving great workplace cultures. It’s a responsibility of leadership to provide less sugar coating and more real skills that will make a difference to how they work effectively individually and collectively as a collaborative team.