Time for honest reflection

Leanne Hamley is asking some important questions about your company culture. Can you answer them, honestly?

The post pandemic world of work is an opportunity for leaders to openly and honestly review how they fared, and to engage with their people about what the future of the organisation could and should look like. 

Over the past 18 months employees have become the social observers of how leadership, not only of our country but also of the organisations we work for, have performed. Have the companies we admired remained true to their values? Did their leadership excel?

Or like many were their actions ones which negatively impacted their people, actions that unless reviewed will have lasting damage to their employee’s belief system and the new evolved culture.

Culture is a topic that is discussed so frequently, yet deliberate action not always taken. Coming out of a global pandemic many organisations are yet to consider and shape the new culture that will serve them best.

One that considers how the culture they had built served them well or whether the culture they had, was one that hampered what was already a challenging time. Cultures whose bureaucracy proved to slow down any level of adaptability, or where trust had never been established so further challenged by the imposed remote working.

With the job market now having moved on considerably it has become apparent that people are making different decisions, decisions that are right for them, decisions that may not have happened had COVID not given people the opportunity to live in a different way.

The legacy cultural change programmes must be pushed aside and replaced with the ongoing people agenda which is cultural development. Culture must be recognised as an ongoing ambition, one that needs nurturing.

Culture does not have a project end date and here’s why…

The damage of a poor culture isn’t just the spiralling costs, it’s the brand damage; it’s the bitterness shared within each interaction; it’s the tears shared before a day in the office, or the anxiety brought home each evening, it’s the time committed to recognising we are in a mental health epidemic that has grown significantly through COVID and as a business the role we play within this; It’s the time taken to rebuild a business post a global pandemic.

The organisations that know and understand this have values that are aligned, the culture is shaped along with the associated behaviours, the processes mapped and the organisational teams are built all to deliver their purpose and strategy in full alignment, these are the organisations that know that consistency is key.

These are the organisations who don’t see culture as a project, but an ongoing part of who they want this business to become. It is a way of life and in the work context it’s ‘how we do things around here’.

Now is the time for organisations to consider their intention to the culture they wish to have and how they want to treat their employees. To honestly interact with the intention that by listening to your employees you will be able to start building walls that may have been broken along the way. To understand the needs of your people and to see the value small but significant changes can make.

Organisations and leaders must make it safe to ask the hard questions to learn how the employees feel.

Do the employees work for the leader or do they work for the organisation? Where is their loyalty placed? Or, are they here for the paycheck? As they serve their leader in their role, do the managers and leaders of the business understand that they should also be serving the employees reciprocally?

That leadership and managing people comes with a great level of responsibility and the development of them has to be considered and executed to ensure people are looked after and led in the right way.

There are cultures that drive innovation, they create results, they become attractive places of work which have people knocking at the door. The leaders role model the behaviours expected, and the employees feel safe in the knowledge of the treatment they should expect.

With the job market now having moved on considerably it has become apparent that people are making different decisions, decisions that are right for them, decisions that may not have happened had COVID not given people the opportunity to live in a different way.

Honest reflection, ask the big questions and listen to the answers, are your employees free to say the truth, have you made your employees feel safe, safe to be honest and secure in their role.

Leaders must consider whether their people are performing in their role because of their loyalty to the business or they are performing in fear. Have you created a place where people feel like they belong or are they showing up because they are simply choosing not to leave?

Now is the time to review and to consciously shape the aspirant culture that will allow the business and your employees to thrive.


About the author

Leanne Hamley is an experienced leader and business coach specializing in behavioural change, leadership development and organizational culture. Her book, The Golden Thread available to buy now, released Kindle 7 June, Paperback 8 June.


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