A recent UK poll conducted by Ipsos asked employees to state the reasons why they are dissatisfied with their job.
After pay, which is understandable given the current financial climate, 28% stated their line manager and 26% the overall culture at work as reasons.
With 47% of respondents stating that they’re actively looking for another job, employers and leaders can’t ignore the importance of workplace culture in hiring and retaining staff.
We sometimes throw about the term ‘work culture’ without really understanding what we mean by it.
We know that organisations are made up of individuals who come together and collaborate and interact for a common purpose. What we sometimes miss is the fact that the culture of an organisation emerges from the patterns of interaction between people.
That’s why we often hear people say, “that’s just the way we do things around here” when they are actually referring to the shared norms and rules for how they work and collaborate with one another.
For example, if people are always made to fear making a mistake at work, then the prevailing culture in that organisation is one where people keep information to themselves, don’t make suggestions to improve or advance the organisation, and limit their interaction with colleagues for fear of losing their job.
This is often referred to as a toxic work environment.
As a leader, your primary responsibility is to set and maintain a positive culture in your organisation.
This’ll determine how your team collaborates to achieve the goals of your organisation and also how effective you are as a leader. Of course your organisation’s culture isn’t something you set once and forget about. You need to maintain, support and reinforce it constantly.
In the absence of a positively enforced culture, through effective communication and collaboration between you and your team and the team between themselves, the gaps will be filled by staff gossip and rumour which will then dictate the prevailing culture.
A positive work culture is one where the communication lines are clear and open, where employees are encouraged to collaborate effectively and share important information, and where teams are encouraged to innovate and share new ideas.
All this stems from you, the leader.
Of course you’re also part of the team. How you choose to communicate and interact with the rest of the team determines the behaviour they adopt: in short, it determines your organisation’s culture.
Your organisation’s culture only changes if, and only to the degree that, your leadership style changes.
A regime change, without a change in how you all communicate and collaborate, is not a change in leadership style or culture.
Only when as a leader you change the way you lead, does the leadership of your organisation change.
Only when the organisation’s leadership changes does the politics of that organisation change.
Only when the politics of an organisation changes does that organisation’s culture change.
And only then will you be able to hire the best people. and retain the talent you already have.
Got a question about this article?
Want to discuss leadership in more detail?