Workplace culture is receiving a lot of coverage lately. There seems to be a broad understanding that a constructive and engaging culture is a necessary part of creating a productive and sustainable workplace.
But the focus has increasingly been on finding the very worst workplaces – they get labelled “toxic”- and pillorying the managers or finding other people to blame. There’s a lot of shaming of everyone from Boards of Directors, to CEOs and ‘Leadership Teams’.
I’d like to suggest that there’s a more important picture that we can focus on. A way of looking at culture as simply an element of creating a better, more productive and sustainably excellent workplace.
It seems that the discussion gets too side-lined on a binary definition. A workplace culture is either toxic or it isn’t. And if it is not toxic then there is no need to take any action.
And worse still, if someone suggests that it’s necessary to pay attention to workplace culture then that’s tantamount to accusing the management of being negligent or being “bad” managers.
But I’d like to challenge that. In simple terms, taking action to create a better culture can lead to many improvements in areas like productivity and sustainability. Imagine if it was possible to improve the experience of one or two customers every week? Or achieve a mere 5% reduction in safety incidents? How about a 5% reduction in total sick leave payments each year?
The best managers always have an eye on the culture and are curious about where changes can be made in how the workplace operates. It’s simply another element in a process of continuous improvement.
To take an assessment of where your culture is right now is a positive and constructive step, not a sign of failure!