The Global Human Capital Trends survey conducted by the Deloitte group in 2015 examined 3,300 businesses across 106 countries and found that the No.1 issue globally was “Culture and Engagement” (in the 2016 survey it was No. 3; in the 2017 survey it was No. 4).
“Organisations are recognising the need to focus on culture and dramatically improve employee engagement as they face a looming crisis in engagement and retention” (2016 Report, Page 3). In the 2017 report, it was stated, “Culture and engagement are vital parts of the employee experience, and leading organizations are broadening their focus to include a person’s first contact with a potential employer through retirement and beyond” (Page 7).
Because companies and businesses are now “naked”, meaning that social media and internet access is now exposing exactly what is going on inside all these places, culture is becoming much more exposed and relevant. It has always been relevant, but it’s just that now everyone can see it, not just those who happen to be working inside it.
Of course this means that the leadership hierarchy are suddenly interested in culture too. It’s just not their products or services that are exposed to public scrutiny, it is now also their culture.
We talk about a positive culture, but what is it exactly?
Well, we all certainly know what it’s NOT simply because we’ve either heard about it it, or worse still, painfully experienced it. Typically, there are individuals whose egos run rampant (and they are often the leaders) and they are often self-centred or are authoritarian or dictatorial and who often engage in sarcasm, put-downs, criticisms and who are demanding, unreasonable, blunt or rude.
If they are not openly abrupt, then perhaps they are more sinister engaging in laying blame, being highly manipulative, being inconsistent, creating cliches, playing favourites, engaging in back-stabbing, and then probably taking all the credit for any good work conducted.
Consequently, the individuals around them survive by forming cliches, engaging in gossip, innuendo and may, in fact, get on-side with the bully or ego to form an alliance of sorts in order to prevent themselves being knifed or ostracised.
The general atmosphere is tense, negative, oppressive and destructive. Productivity falls and morale is poor indeed and individuals staff members are only concerned about watching their back, keeping their heads down and just trying to survive. How on earth business actually gets done is a mystery.
On the other hand, a positive culture is one where the leadership is generally open, genuine and transparent where the intent is to be supportive and nurturing to allow individuals to feel free to make comment and have discussions where contributions are welcomed and professional and personal development is encouraged. It’s a setting where everyone’s opinion counts. A place where people can express their thoughts and feelings without fear of criticism or recrimination. It’s a culture where people are encouraged to grow and develop and be their best. It’s a culture where strengths and talents are recognised and people play to their strengths for their own benefit as well as to the benefit of the company or organisation. It’s a culture that also welcomes feedback.
Overall, it’s an environment built on TRUST.
A positive culture is one that tends to be flexible to change and therefore adapts to meet the needs of its members in a dynamic and constantly changing world. With the combined energy of all its members, a positive culture can actively pursue the challenges of the future as well as make improved profit and increase productivity.