What makes a great culture? | PerformHR

Culture is something that exists whenever two or more human beings are in the same place. It’s inherently there.

And, while we are an evolved species, we are naturally drawn to safety. We are not natural risk-takers, even though we can consciously choose to mirror another’s behaviour or do something differently.

So, when placed in a situation, such as starting a new role with an organisation, or being placed in a new social scenario, we invariably look for the easiest route to feel safe and, ultimately, accepted.

As such, we are naturally inclined to conform to an already pre-determined DNA in an organisation, team or social group.

More often than not, we’ll go along with it rather than going against the tide.

As a leader, therefore, it is critical that your culture tide is flowing in the direction you want it to.

As a leader, it is your job to ensure it is.

Your culture – so much more than words

Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter what you say your values are.

They are totally and utterly irrelevant if your team don’t live and breathe them, day in, day out.

Your values should shine through the way your people show up every single day. And not just in front of clients or customers.

Your team’s body language, style and the language they use should be consistent.

It should be consistent regardless of whether they are interacting with each other, your customers or with the leaders in your business.

If that behaviour isn’t consistent, your people system and organisational systems are not aligned.

It doesn’t matter what you say your values actually are. Your culture is the lived experience of everyone with whom your team interacts.

Walking the walk

I have advocates and clients of PHR say to me how we ‘have a look’.

You bet we have a look, and it’s got nothing to do with a demographic profile.

We employ people who demonstrate – or have the potential to demonstrate – our values. The look is our value of ‘New York State of Mind’.

It’s the vibrancy, the energy, the ‘get it done’ mindset that creates a deep level of trust.

We are talking about an infectious vibrancy.

We only employ people who are energised about finding a better way for organisations to experience HR and achieve higher HR ROI. That is the PHR look. That is our culture.

Our team speak out. They are confident. They know they are safe. They know they are supported.

A great – and challenging – question to ask yourself is: “What would my team do differently if they knew they were 100% supported, and they were safe?”

Now, I’m not suggesting that we encourage a culture of non-conformists to no end. I am talking about unleashing human potential that is guided and aligned to your business’s strategy – through living your brand’s culture.

Culture can be best described as how a collection of people interact, what they believe, and how they respond to any given situation.

Culture is the reason that some teams see something that is not quite right and do something about it, while other teams don’t. (The Royal Commission into Banking highlights this again and again.)

I know I belong

As a business leader, you want your people to be aligned to the purpose of why your organisation exists. You want your people to operate in a way that befits your business.

A strong culture creates a sense of ‘I belong here’.

What percentage of your organisation would say that they belong?

And, of the people who say they belong, are their reasons for feeling part of the culture the same reasons you want them to be part of your organisation?

Having people who want to be part of your team, but who don’t live what is expected, is a sign of a lazy culture.

The cost of the short game

All organisations need a financial return for sustainment. And, one of the most common mistakes I see is compromising whom you allow into your organisation.

For example, companies frequently hire the most technically proficient person as opposed to the person who has the best motivational fit and ability to develop technical competence.

I am not suggesting that exclusively recruiting for motivational fit is the best way to go, however, if you consistently place technical competence above cultural fit, you’re playing a very short-term game.

There are often options to supplement your technical competence through the use of short-term or external resources. Be aware of why you would bring a potentially unhealthy culture into a great one.

The answer

People have said to me that it will have been easier for me to establish a strong culture as I co-founded PerformHR. I didn’t inherit a culture.

And, in a way, that’s right.

However, with every position we have hired for, we have had options that would give us a potentially better short-term return.

Instead, we have dogmatically protected the culture what we consciously designed.

As a leader, surround yourself with someone who will challenge your thinking on your people for the betterment of your organisation.

Culture by design is the conscious articulation and practice of what you want.

If you cannot state in a few sentences what great looks like in your organisation, you are not clear.

Don’t expect your team to know if you don’t. The answer starts with you.

Identifiers of a great culture

  • That human potential is maximised, not diminished
  • That the way your team operate is consistent if you are in the room or not
  • That your team respectfully challenges you, and you invite this
  • That there is always a balance of focus and freedom
  • That you have put in place processes and systems that consider the individual as an individual, not just an employee number
  • That you consistently have more people wanting to work for you than you have roles (regardless of technical fit)

There are two questions to ask yourself as a business leader.

The first is, “Do I know which way my tide is flowing?”, and the second is, “Does the flow support my strategy?”

If you are encountering difficulty in getting your culture tide flowing the way you and the business need, speak to the team at PerformHR about a culture review. Book a free call today to discuss how we can help.

“As a leader, therefore, it is critical that your culture tide is flowing in the direction you want it to.”

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