01 Jul Reigniting Culture in the Workplace
The necessity of operating differently throughout COVID has given businesses the opportunity to understand what they can do and how they can evolve. With this evolution, so too must the employee experience and culture of the organisation transform. Business operating models can’t change unless culture changes with it.
So how do businesses capitalise on this opportunity and evolve their culture as they bring their teams back together?
Firstly, a change in culture needs to happen consciously. As goes the saying “culture develops whether we choose it to or not”. But company culture is too important to be left to its own device, so it’s important that companies design it deliberately.
But before we look ahead to the future, we should first stop and reflect on how teams changed and adapted during the restrictions.
The first point of call when it comes to company culture should be the business vision, purpose, and values. Times of crisis can really test the purpose and values of an organisation. As a business leader, take stock of the last 6 months and genuinely challenge how these stacked up. Regardless of your report card in the first half of 2020, ask yourself the question if you think a new standard is needed? If your business has evolved, does your purpose and values need to transform with it?
If you aren’t already, become really clear on what your purpose is. Purpose driven organisations are most likely to thrive in the good times and bad. When you have alignment between your purpose and your team, they are more likely to be more resilient and ride out any volatility that may still be on the way.
The next point on the theme of reflection is to talk to your team to understand how the changes impacted them. Did you do something that made the team more productive? Did it enhance their employee experience? Or was it a necessary evil in order to continue to operate?
As it becomes clearer how you’ll be working into the future, ask the team what ways of working to they want to take forward? Perhaps there are further adjustments needed? Or maybe there’s something that worked really well before lockdown that they are aching to bring back?
Following this initial phase of empathising and understanding, take this to the next level to start co-creating different ways of working. The trick here is not to fall into the trap of only considering operational requirements. Culture presents itself through several elements; so be sure to talk about language, communication rhythms, behaviours and team rituals.
People perform best in a system the create – so buy in and engagement is critical for bringing culture back to life.
Each team and organisation is going to be slightly unique, but there are a lot of indicators that, in this environment where there is still uncertainty, organisations should be focusing on creating a stronger sense of belonging and connectedness are
When it’s appropriate, start making the changes that you’ve co-created together. Remember, it may take some time to re-orient and normalise the new behaviours, so approach it with fluidity and be experimental.
Finally, put in place a feedback mechanism to quickly and easily check on the feelings and sentiment of the team. This doesn’t have to be something long and laborious, but just enough for you to see if you’re on the right track with what you’re doing or if you need to focus more on certain initiatives, stronger communication or even if there are particular teams in the business that need some additional attention.