How do you define culture? Do you define it as the manifestation of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively? Maybe not. But in regards to the workplace, how do you define culture? What does it take to create a great work culture?
In the episode Culture fix- Create a great place to work on the Fast Leader Show, Colin D Ellis defines culture as the sum of everyone’s attitudes, beliefs, behaviors, traditions, and skills. Cultures are made up of everybody. This is the main point to consider when creating a great work culture. Great work cultures are made up of our vulnerabilities and doorways that we give in to open ourselves up.
Acknowledging that you’re not the smartest person in the room creates a great work culture. It is the sum of every single person within a team and how they work together.
The pillars of work culture
Personality and communication
The first pillar is the personality and communication of its people. Why do personality and communication go hand in hand? If you don’t take the time to get to know each other, you will create nothing worthwhile. To ensure that communication is effective, your team can take personality surveys. This helps your team members to understand each other better.
The second pillar is vision. Why is vision important? At the heart of every great culture is a vision and inspirational statement of the future. A vision sets the tone for strategic intent. It serves as an inspiration for everyone in the team.
Furthermore, the third pillar is values. A set of core values is also important in creating a great workplace culture. Identifying and defining them as a team is important. This will aid in staying true to the values. Values provide the emotional compass for people.
Behavior, Collaboration, and Innovation
There is an agreement on the final three pillars. These three work hand in hand around behavior. Firstly, how you will behave as human beings towards each other. Secondly, collaboration, how you will work together to achieve whatever it is you’ve set out to. Lastly, innovation, how you will make time for new thinking.
All of those inputs apply to any kind of team in any country. Wherever you are in the world, it doesn’t matter. They apply everywhere.
Work Cultural Variances
When you start talking about those six pillars, there are some potential cultural variances. It was found in the MHS analysis of emotional intelligence that across the globe, there are some similarities and a few slight cultural differences. Talking about loyalty and hierarchies, it can affect culture. Looking at these six inputs, what might be affected culturally?
There is an egalitarian approach and a hierarchical approach to culture. That is part of understanding personality and communication. This means understanding where everybody’s from, what kind of personality they have. Also including the societal co-cultural context.
Take for example, in the UK, they are very detailed in their thinking. They don’t talk about emotion much. Whereas in Australia it’s much more social. Those are the societal contexts that you need to make sure you understand before you create culture.
What you want to do is to create something that’s inclusive of everybody. You also need to ensure that fit doesn’t hold certain cultures out to the exterior.
Subcultures in Work Culture
Ultimately, culture is local, and it has to be nurtured continuously. It has to be focused locally for it to impact the global organization. What is the other component that is vital for a great work culture? To get a great organizational culture, you need great subcultures.
For instance, in an NFL team, if you’ve got a great attacking unit, you’ve got a great defensive unit and you’ve got a great kicking unit. All of those factors need to be effective. It is important to have efficient subcultures within your team.
Everyone on the team needs to know their job, but they all need to create a great culture themselves to ensure that there is overall great team culture. In the transformation process, there are certain things that you can use as ways to help carry your team forward.
It is important to build relationships and get to know people. It is vital to have an inspirational vision statement. You should put together a set of core values that everyone holds to be true.
With those three things, you have created a solid foundation to agree on how you behave, work together and introduce new ideas. Getting to know each other, having a strong vision statement and a set of core values really provides the foundation for everything else.
Standing firm and removing poor behavior
Most organizations fear the concept of taking people out. They talk about cultivating the most important thing. What they don’t want to do is take people out of work and prove that it’s the most important thing. Once you agree, a set of core behaviors, what you’ve got is something to hold people to. In the absence of that, people end up making excuses for behavior.
One thing that holds cultures back is, we don’t challenge poor behavior. We excuse it. If culture truly is the most important thing, it really demands that you performance manage individuals. This means doing what we often fear most, which is going through a process of performance management.
Self-awareness is critically important. Understand yourself. What’s your own motivation? What are you trying to achieve? Essentially, you put the emphasis on helping and elevating others.
If you’re not aware of your own strengths, you’re not aware of your own opportunities for improvement. You will always achieve half of what you’re capable of because you’re not really pushing yourself to that next level.
Emotional Intelligence and Great Work Culture
When you look at great organizations of culture, they have two things. What two things can help you achieve a great work culture? These two things include engagement and emotional intelligence. Highly emotionally intelligent people care about each other. The team members are aware of who they work with and everyone cares about what the organization is trying to achieve.
Having low engagement and low emotionally intelligent staff results in a stagnant culture. There’s lots of change aversion. People actively avoid things that make them feel uncomfortable.
When you get to that high engagement but low emotional intelligence, you get what we call combatant culture. Everything here is a fight. Lots of anxiety, lots of stress, lots and lots of poor behavior.
Where there is a good work culture is where there are highly engaged employees high in emotional intelligence. You have an agreed vision, agreed behaviors, everybody’s pushed, everyone’s trying to be 5% better.
The Importance of Transformation Timelines
Most organizations want to do quick-fix approaches. They want to bring in consultants to tell them what they already know. There is an eagerness to do a rebranding exercise and they want to implement the latest system.
How long can it possibly take to transform work culture? And why are transformation timelines important? It takes between nine to eighteen months to go through a transformative process. In that time you’ve got to stay true to what you’ve all agreed. Senior managers have to role model what they’re looking for and everybody else has to take responsibility for it.
Maintaining culture is the biggest challenge. This is why you don’t get any sports teams that dominate for 15 to 25 years. In the UK, Manchester United dominated for 20 years. Culturally, they got it absolutely right. They managed out certain players who were past their prime and they brought some new ones in,
Notably, big organizations manage to achieve year after year because they stay true to their culture. They never stop growing and learning.
The Role of Team Member support
We talk about leadership a lot and we don’t really talk about followership. Why should you focus on team member support? To achieve a good workplace culture, you need good followership. That means that anyone can lead. Everyone on the team has to agree that whatever the leader thinks is the right thing to do, is what they will follow and support.
It is important to make sure the different members of the team understand what’s happening. As you set expectations, you need to make sure that your behaviors are in check.
Workplace Culture and Customer Experience
Being a positive contributor in building and sustaining a great workplace culture will be a key differentiator in your success and delivering exceptional customer experiences. It’s been proven, great workplace cultures deliver great customer experiences. To learn more, watch the interview with Colin D Ellis on Fast Leader Show.
- Did you know these were at the heart of every great culture? – Click to Tweet
- Nurture this continuously and focus on it locally to impact your entire organization. – Click to Tweet
- Lock these in to hold your workplace culture together. – Click to Tweet
- Now! Embed these 6 Pillars to Create Your Great Work Culture – Click to Tweet
Jim Rembach is the Editor in Chief of the Customer Service Weekly and it’s Podcast host. He is President of CX Global Media and the creator of the Call Center Coach Virtual Leaders Academy. As the host of the Fast Leader Show Podcast, he has interviewed hundreds of experts, authors, academics, researchers, and practitioners on various angles, viewpoints, and perspectives for improving the customer experience. He has held positions in retail operations, contact centers, customer support, customer success, sales, and measured the customer experience. He is a certified Emotional Intelligence practitioner, Employee Retention Specialist, and recipient of numerous industry awards.