Many organisations have undergone significant changes recently. One such change has been the introduction of ‘working from home’. Recently, significant attention and tips have been given to keeping staff engaged and motivated when working from home.
We might be feeling we have just about got working from home right, and now, organisations are finding themselves implementing more change – planning how and when to return staff to the office.
What will your new usual look like?
WHAT IS CULTURE?
In general terms, your culture is the expression of your workplace shared values, beliefs, and norms. It ripples through every element of your organisation’s identity, it regulates how people behave and drives engagement, creativity, connectedness, and productivity.
Culture is critical to your organisation’s survival. It is both powerful and evident.
TRANSITIONING BACK TO THE OFFICE
It is important to focus on your organisation’s culture: the transition back is an ideal opportunity to demonstrate the culture you want.
As your organisation transitions back, you have essentially two options:
- Preserve your existing culture
- Review your organisation’s why – and by extension, what and how. Consider:
- Where your current culture may be detrimental
- How your culture could be improved
- What are/should be your values-principles
With any change, staff experience a sense of loss in various forms, and this loss will be experienced twice, moving out of the office, and now, moving out of their working from home arrangements.
Organisations that have transitioned staff to working from home would have explored and implemented new approaches, including varied communication approaches, flexible arrangements, additional communication methods and expectations, and different support and supervisory arrangements.
My experience has shown me that a strong, clear, shared vision is what makes maintaining, or even changing organisational culture easier (not that it is easy).
Here are some measures that could help you foster your organisation’s culture:
- Revisit or redefine your organisation’s goals. Keep your vision front and centre.
During transition, it is always good to return to the fundamental reason you started the organisation. Confirm who you are and your ‘why’.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate (openly, transparently and consistently).
Specifically focus on your organisation’s values and revisit alignment between staff and organisational values.
Recognise and empathise with staff experience and impact of both transitioning in and out of working from home.
- Get people involved, particularly staff who are perceived as having authority or are natural leaders within your organisation (remember every team has both ‘formal’ and ‘informal’ leaders). Consciously recognise employees.
- Define, understand, and live your culture.
This includes understanding why your culture works and monitoring its strength and impact.
Also review any sub-cultures (team/site level culture).
- Reinforce your mission and values.
Now, how about that vulture!
You can sense it, feel it in the air, and the tension is palpable. Subtly and gradually developed, negative culture can have a devastating impact on staff, your organisation and reputation (a negative culture cannot be hidden from your customers!)
Worse still, a negative culture is contagious.
Everybody in your organisation has responsibility for the culture.
Culture Vultures are negative, focus very much on WIIFM (What’s in It For Me), are driven by their egos, and think only about themselves.
When it comes to culture, it will not develop by itself (it will but you probably won’t like it), you must make a conscious investment in its positive development and maintenance.
Looking for more signs and symptoms of destructive workplaces? Check out Vulture Cultures: How to Stop Them Ravaging Your Organisation’s Performance, People, Profit and Public Image (30 Nov. 2012) by Leanne Faraday-Brash.
Make an intentional effort to ensure your desired culture is sustained after the transition.
If you do need to look at changing your culture, Susan Heathfield: How to change your culture: Organisational Culture Change, explores three major steps in organisational culture change.
Keep sight of who you are and what your original mission was.
There is no better time than now. If these resonate with you, keep the culture vulture away. Reach out for a free 30 minute consultation here.
Realise Your Vision has the resources and can co-design your reviewing, (re)defining and shaping your organisational culture.