A Blueprint for Culture
"Our culture is toxic!"
"We need a new culture!"
"We are just starting out and we want to get our culture defined!"
I hear these words more often than you might think is decent. So much so we set about creating a set of tools that help to define and refine a unique and great culture for any organisation.
It turns out it's quite difficult to take the complexities of culture and make them simple.
It was Peter Drucker who claimed that "Culture eats strategy for breakfast" and I've always thought that to be accurate. Culture seems to be the cake made from secret ingredients that not only holds a company together, but also forms a bond with a brand that you can be proud of.
A culture is defined by 'how things happen around here'. It's the common bond that is often the unspoken ways decisions are made, or feedback given (and received). It can be great, or it can be toxic. Either way, it is always driven by the people within it and completely underpinned by the leadership of that workplace.
So what are the ingredients that make up this gorgeous culture cake?
Purpose & Values
If you don't know what you stand for, or why you stand for it, you won't ever be able to create a culture in your organisation that supports it. Knowing why you exist as an organisation, and how you exist as an organisation is vital.
At Acceler8, we want the world to Be Happy, Be Human at work. Everything we do has that at its core. We demonstrate that in our values - it's what clients and colleagues will see everyday. Playful, Proud, Curious and Courageous. Excitingly, it means something different to everyone in the team, and that's encouraged. We don't want to prescribe how people feel working here, we want people to shape that themselves.
The rest of our canvas explores the elements that define process and those that represent people - all working towards the outcome of 'A Happy Workplace' - with agreement about what that looks like.
Our blueprint for a better culture has many more stops along the way - a number of ingredients that make up the final cake.
From a process perspective, we look at how decisions are made, authority to decide, decision-making etiquette if you prefer. We define priorities for the business, looking specifically at what needs to be achieved in the short, mid and long term. There's more process in our ways of working.. how do we support those great behaviours we are looking for and encourage ownership of our little part of the world.
When we add in the people element, the magic really starts to happen (we are employee engagement specialists after all!). Looking at how feedback is given and received as part of every day workflow is vital - those ground rules will really help shape the organisation. you then add in human behaviours and being really clear on what gets rewarded and what gets challenged - everyone becoming clear about what is and isn't a helpful behaviour. Equity, inclusion and diversity contributes, as does how we speak up when things aren't right - with clients and with each other.
Add all these ingredients together and the culture is created. The outcome of that is a happy workplace - somewhere your colleagues and clients want to be, somewhere they can thrive and somewhere they can be the best version of themselves. There will be a foundation of trust and respect but above all, there will be an understanding of exactly 'what it's like around here'.
So how does all of this get put together?
We've invested time. Not only in piecing together what the culture blueprint needs to contain, but also a set of activities that help you whittle your thoughts down to capture that perfectly.
Even better, it will be facilitated by an employee engagement expert and someone who has experienced the process first-hand.
Building a culture from scratch or rebuilding from a different base needn't be daunting. The impact of not doing it far outweighs the time and investment in getting your culture right.
There's quite a-lot more to the culture blueprint than I've shared here (well that would make it too easy for competitors wouldn't it?) so we would be happy to go through what it all looks and feels like in reality.
To finish this blog, take a moment of quiet and calm. Imagine a workplace culture where everyone is thriving, all working towards the same common goal with same mutual respect and understanding about how things are achieved. Then imagine someone new coming in to the team and being able to witness that culture so obviously that it gets adopted in no time at all.
That's when you know your culture is a winner.