Understanding your Work Culture
On the surface, workplace culture can seem deceptively easy to observe and understand. At its most simple, it can be the obvious factors such as office layout, how people behave, style of dress or general language being used between colleagues. In reality, culture goes well beyond the surface layer of how things look at a casual glance.
Culture can be summed up as the complex set of behaviours, values, reward systems, and rituals that make up your organisation. You can ‘feel’ culture when you visit a business or organisation, because it is often evident in the behaviour and enthusiasm of those who work there, along with the space itself.
The funny thing about culture is that the true nature of what is happening will often not be the obvious, surface level happenings. What is going on below the surface will often reveal the true drivers of both fulfilling and unfulfilling workplace cultures.
Organisations with reputable and enviable workplace culture often have one key thing in common: the people who work for them genuinely want to be there and are engaged when they are there. Recent data from Gallup shows that only 24% of Australian employees are engaged at work (60% are disengaged and 16% actively disengaged). While the culture of your organisation may not be the only reason for disengagement amongst your team, it can be an important factor for determining if people are happy and engaged at work.
By investing time to develop a better understanding of the existing culture of your workplace, you will be able to determine current engagement levels and know how to best improve them. There are some key strategies you can take to better understand your current working culture:
- Conduct Culture Interviews
The best way to get to the heart of your culture is to ask the people who make it: your people. By sitting down with your people either individually or in small groups, you will be able to ask the questions about your organisation that you really want answers to. The best way to find out more about how your people feel is to ask open ended or indirect questions, such as: ‘How do you describe your workplace and what you do to your friends?’ or ‘What is one thing you’d like to see change at work?’
- Analyse How Your Team is Working
Conducting a regular analysis of how your team is working together is essential to understanding what is working well and what needs improvement. LMA’s DIY Teamwork Analysis test will provide key insights into how your team is working, both as a collective and as individuals.
- Learn to Observe
Learn how to tune in to what is happening around you. How are senior leaders interacting with the middle managers and staff? Are these interactions easy or strained? Are there clear conflicts? How are conflicts being resolved on a daily basis, if at all? Learning to analyse without judgement or assumption will help you to determine where the culture is growing and succeeding and where it may be faltering.
Understanding and improving your team’s experience is critical for companies operating in a highly competitive global economy. Providing an engaging experience will help organisations succeed in attracting and retaining highly skilled, engaged employees. Similarly, a strong employee experience also drives a strong customer experience. It is a real win-win all around to be acutely aware of your workplace’s culture.
LMA’s Challenge of Leadership course (BSB42015 Certificate IV in Leadership & Management) covers the practical issues of analyzing and improving workplace culture and is a good choice for leaders interested in positively influencing the performance of their team and organization. Click here to view the national LMA course schedule.