The classic summary of ‘the way we do things around here’ is not always enough for us to challenge and change corporate culture.
Clients regularly talk about ‘…changing culture in the organisation’ as one of the key outcomes of a project.
Behind this deceptively simple statement is a myriad of guides, surveys, benchmarks, information, books, and advice on the topic. Try an internet search and it’s likely that there will be some 50 million hits. In particular, informed and experienced researchers, authors and writers such as Ed Schein, Gert Hofstede, Peter Woolliams and Fons Trompenaars offer various views on changing culture. So against this background there is little doubt that this is a significant topic. And therein lies the challenge…just where do we start?
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Sound leadership and staff engagement must involve encouraging accountability and this means unlearning old rules and culture and learning the new rules of trust.
A Suggestion Scheme – is this really about Staff Engagement?
The MD of a client manufacturing company was concerned that the new Staff Suggestions Scheme did not appear to be generating any ideas from staff as to improving the processes.
‘It’s as if they are not interested…’ the MD complained. He was right. Most staff suggestion schemes falter in the early stages.
The reasons usually centre on staff scepticism as to whether any suggestions will be acted upon. Equally important is that employee groups are rarely involved in developing and implementing improvement ideas.
So what should he do? Let me unfold the story of what we did, starting with trust, training and accountability.
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The Covid-19 pandemic means supporting the basic and psychological needs of staff with a different style of leadership.
The effect of Covid-19 has invoked uncertainty over health, income, and indeed our very future. The effect of the pandemic means that normal life has been overturned. The metaphorical alligators are amongst us…
‘When you are up to your neck in alligators, it’s difficult to remember that your initial objective was to drain the swamp’
Against this backdrop, leadership in companies has also been challenged. Guiding staff through uncertainty demands a radically different approach than leading in times of relative stability.
But recent experiences with clients have highlighted outstanding examples of managers and directors, by instinct, in response to Covid-19. They have swiftly adopted a new approach in the direction of their businesses and staff.
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Defining and agreeing on ‘values’ in strategic planning and subsequent behaviours in daily routines.
Two recent events in working with clients have been an interesting reminder of the need for defining and agreeing on organisational values in strategic planning and subsequent behaviours in daily routines.
businesses are in engineering, with similar sizes of staff levels. Both were overhauling
and re-writing strategic plans.
was writing the plan because, amongst other things, of an imminent customer –
and industry approval – audits. On a different tack, company ‘B’s reason was it
wanted to set the ‘True North’ direction of the business for the next three
years – and beyond.
A key point
here is that values are both current ‘the
way we act do now’ and future, or espoused values and ‘the way we will act in the future’. Or the collective behaviours
in pursuit of the strategic goals.
The process and outcome of the respective ‘Values Alignment’ for company ‘A’ and ‘B’ could not have been further apart…
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Leaders – get down on the shop floor. Walk and talk and listen. You’ll be surprised what everyone can learn.
There seems to be no shortage of books, articles, advice and wisdom on leadership styles and the characteristics of good leaders. Yet it seems that one small, but valuable, behaviour is often missing – or at best limited in practise. Particularly during organisational change and development. Getting down on the shop floor.
In using an analogy : when our son was small he often
demanded that at playtime we, his family, ‘get
down on the floor’ and join him on the family-room carpet in whatever he
was playing with at that moment: making castles from wooden bricks, building
Lego or Brio trains or simply drawing…
Of course a small child’s world operates at that level and
that we, as grown-ups, in encouraging play, fun and learning engaged with our
son in his world, at his level.
Is there a parallel to ‘getting down on the floor’ with staff in the workplace? From experiences over the years it seems there is. Its getting down on the shop floor!
Continue reading “Listening Leadership: Getting Down on the Shop Floor”