Corporate Vision July 2017

CORPORATE VISION / July 2017 23 , Matt Jenkins, Head of Consulting, Footdown imparts his thoughts on the issues around company culture, something which is a critical business asset for long lasting success he argues in this guest article. How to Fix Dysfunctional Company Culture Many market leading companies have realised that company culture is a critical business asset for long lasting success. Considering that company culture is the driving force that shapes the way an organisation functions and how employees behave internally and externally, it’s easy to understand that when neglected or managed incorrectly it can become a liability and create a dysfunctional, toxic workplace. If a positive, strong company culture is an essential competitive advantage pushing organisations to new success heights, a toxic one can erode an organisation’s core strengths, diminishing productivity, hindering innovation and damaging its public image. Where did it go wrong? A stifled, oppressive atmosphere combined with aggressive and negative behaviours, is one of the first signs that company culture is turning sour and business leaders need to take measures to fix the toxic environment as soon as possible. Other signs of a dysfunctional company culture include: • Chronic high stress levels and lack of work-life balance; • No clear sense of direction or shared goals; • Authoritarian or bullying leadership; • Lack of transparency and/ or accountability from the top down; • An atmosphere of gossip and rumours; • Increased levels of customer complaints and; • Scapegoating and/or sabotage. Under these circumstances, it’s not surprising that employees become unproductive and demoralised. For most employees, doing their everyday work is not especially challenging. What makes their job difficult is the internal politics, outdated or unfair rules, stress and uncertainty about the future. Because of a broken culture, many smart and capable employees choose to leave and the organisation faces the risk of collapsing. So, what can business leaders do to fix a dysfunctional culture? Turning around a toxic culture begins with a clear assessment of the toxic elements and of the strong points that could serve as anchors during the uphill process required by a deep readjustment and return to the core values that made the company great in the first place. Open discussions about the internal problems your business faces and smart diagnostic tools that can cut through the noise and scan company culture, employee engagement and organisational performance are the cornerstones of a successful strategy for creating a great company culture. It’s one thing to guess the source of the problem, but a more effective approach involves hearing from employees themselves. For the employees to share honest, unbiased feedback you need to ensure their confidentiality and anonymity. If they feel secure, employees will more easily open up and reveal new things about the organisation that sometimes are difficult to notice when managing the whole business. Nowadays, there are many innovative analytics solutions that empower business leaders to make swift, intelligence-based decisions and quickly improve flawed company culture. If based on employees’ feedback and ideas, any change programme you want to implement afterwards, has a higher chance of being accepted and supported by the whole team. Building up Once you have a clear picture of your employees’ pain points, needs and goals you need to build an improved company culture based on trust, respect, professionalism and shared values. Strive for transparency and share the findings of your assessment with your team. They need to know what challenges the company is facing and what strategic decisions are planned to improve the work environment. Involve all employees and make sure everyone feels their voice is heard and they have the power to change things for the better. Many leaders have failed in their quest to create a high performance organisational culture because they thought it was simply an HR issue and left that department to manage the whole process. In reality, the business managers should be the change agents and strongest advocates of the benefits of a great company culture. They have the power to engage all organisational layers and ensure that everyone is on board with the new company vision. Set clear expectations and targets that will help your team to clearly understand what is expected of them and how to achieve optimum performance. Reward achievement and motivate your employees. It is very important for your staff to see that you care, so acknowledge their efforts and progress. Develop efficient monitoring and feedback processes to see if the change is working. Think of company culture as a complex eco- system that evolves and transforms continually. To make sure that you stay on track and aligned with the long-term business outcomes, you need to constantly check how the organisation is adjusting during the change programme and determine the best opportunities for leveraging the full potential of your employees and market trends. Celebrate success and give your employees the opportunity to interact outside the work environment. Less formal interaction is bound to strengthen work relationships and unite your team. No matter what strategy you choose to fix the company culture and make it great again you must keep in mind that it won’t happen overnight. If you make it clear to your team that this is a key objective for the organisation, you will keep the communications channels open and manage staff’s expectations regarding the desired result. You should then see significant improvements that in time will help your company outperform the competition and enjoy long lasting success. Company: Footdown Ltd Name: Matt Jenkins, Head of Consulting, Footdown Email: [email protected] Web Address: Address: Ralph Allen House Railway Place, Bath BA1 1SR, UK Telephone: +44(0)1225 465640 FREEBIE