Rate your culture and assess your ‘best’ practice

Rate your culture and assess your ‘best’ practice

It’s the end of another year and a good time to look back and review. If you are a manager or CEO, look at the culture that exists and see how it rates on the following checklist. Even if you are not a manager, you might be interested to consider your organisation’s performance against these questions.

Rate yourself out of 10 on each of these ten questions (10 being good performance).

1. Do you lead by example?

How can you expect a satisfied staff if you’re moody, demanding, prejudiced or disorganised? Or you say one thing but promptly do another? Are you a positive role model – setting the tone for what you want from staff by being “the change you want to see”? Most if not all will follow – gladly.

2. Do you set clear expectations?

People get frustrated and demotivated when they don’t know exactly what is expected of them. It starts at the top with the CEO, and is important for every level of leadership in a business.

Create a culture where you state clearly:

  • Vision, goals, roles, values and behaviours.
  • Results, reporting, quality standards, timelines, priorities.
  • Safety, policies, communication expectations (emails, phone, social media, report formats).
  • Written lists of agreed actions and outcomes.

Encourage people to ask questions to clarify and to raise issues if any of the above aren’t working.

3. Do you ensure quality environment, resources and equipment?

People need a good, safe, quality environment, properly articulated processes and procedures and the right equipment to do their job properly. This might be furniture, tools, computer hardware or software, communications technology, access to information or people. Too often, these things are instigated after a problem, complaint or grievance arises or when someone leaves, rather than proactively considering your workplace needs.

4. Do you find the right people and pay them appropriately?

Don’t be lazy with defining exactly what/who you need and the best process to get those people. Take the time to read CVs and letters, hone the selection process and set a high standard to find managers and staff with the right skill sets and values, to fit in with the rest. Be clear about the pay, the hours, the holidays, rights and responsibilities and what can be done offsite.

5. Do people get the opportunity to use their skills?

Frustration and boredom are counterproductive so you need to match jobs with people with the right skills and to give them a sense of the possibilities around them. Do you do any kind of skills audit and uncover talents people could be deploying more usefully? Do you experiment with projects and roles and give people opportunities to extend? You need to recognise talent and develop it. If a person is recruited but not given the opportunity to use their skills, don’t be surprised if they seek challenges elsewhere.

6. Are you supportive, people-proud and committed?

Seems obvious, but we all know workplaces where managers don’t really care about their people and make no effort to show interest. We should know about our staff: what is happening in their lives, what motivates them, and offer assistance when they are overloaded.

Some businesses exercise corporate social responsibilities which create a shared pride in the company’s “triple bottom line” approach (financial, social and environment), and staff enjoy and appreciate this. How do you ensure that your staff feel valued and committed to the product or service you provide?

7. Are people encouraged to contribute ideas and be involved in decisions?

Asking staff and colleagues their opinions and listening to their advice and feedback makes a huge difference to their job satisfaction – and yours.  It engenders a workplace that is open to innovation and improvements. 

8. Do you encourage multi-party feedback and recognition?

Some managers forget they are role models. Being open to feedback, as well as providing frequent, constructive and specific feedback establishes an honest open culture. Encourage the establishment of recognition systems. Most managers invariably fail to give enough praise or specific feedback.

9. Are people allowed some downtime provided it’s above-board?

Virgin maestro Richard Branson made news saying his employees can nominate holidays whenever they like. How this translates to everyday reality is yet to be seen. You may be in no position to try this approach. However, provided people aren’t wasting lunch breaks or company time on personal social media, trolling websites or viewing porn on company equipment, regular breaks should be encouraged with a view to boosting people’s engagement and productivity. Depending on your office culture, you might initiate regular afternoon teas/lunches (e.g. culturally focused food), trivia nights, etc – but don’t force this if people prefer to get on with their work. Not everyone sees the workplace as a place to socialise, meet future romantic partners, etc.

10. Do you encourage learning and development, mental and physical health?

Do you value learning and self care during the course of a lifetime? People likewise need to feel that you place positive emphasis on learning from mistakes, taking time to expand their knowledge, promote good physical and mental health. Does your workplace explicitly endorse learning, improving and human development? Give people the opportunity to grow; they will tell everyone what a great employer they have.

How close to 100 did your business rate? What needs to change and improve?

Eve Ash is a psychologist, author, filmmaker, public speaker and entrepreneur. She runs Seven Dimensions, a company specialising in training resources for the workplace.

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