More and more people in all types of work are talking about how to improve workplace culture. Discussions about culture are especially common when the aim is improved safety or customer service.
For more than 25 years I have been directly engaged in efforts by large and small companies to change their culture for one reason or another. I have been to training courses, participated in workshops, worked in and led improvement projects, had executive coaches and read countless books on the subject.
In this introduction and the next posts to follow, I want to share with you what I have learned and point you to the best current references so that you can create a winning culture in your workplace. I define a “winning culture” as one where all stakeholders (customers and suppliers) enjoy rewards and recognition for excellent performance – everybody is winning.
A winning culture is then, by definition, a sustainable, healthy culture because everyone is doing their best for themselves and everyone else. The flip side of this definition is that there are no “losers” in a winning culture – no one is taking unfair advantage of anyone else.
I have seen many efforts to change workplace culture fail because they did not put in place all of the essential elements. I have also seen efforts to change workplace culture fail because they took on too many changes at once. I have learned that while doing just one thing won’t likely be sufficient, focusing on just one thing at a time is essential to be effective. I will show that a system of four key elements is necessary and that to put that whole system in place requires focus on the critical few things that will do the most good with the least effort. If you are among the many who already knew that, I also have some insights from recent research in neuroscience and psychology that can help you use what you already know more effectively.
The whole system for a winning culture requires a goal, a strategy for achieving the goal, a structure for executing the strategy and habit patterns where people tend to do the right things, no matter what the pressures and even when there are no applicable guidelines and no one is watching. Done right, these four key elements are integral and feed off each other in a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement.
Read my next blog post (Part 1) to explore the goal, the strategy and the structure – the “why”, the “what” and the “how” for the journey toward a winning culture.