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Ten steps towards an inspiring work place culture

As published in No More Practice’s Reality Check 9 May 2013

Culture is one of the key elements helping people decide where they want to work and dictates if and when they stay or go.

Any business owner that thinks they can put their head in the sand and successfully catch and keep the best people without focusing on culture, are facing a challenging time ahead.

Culture is the ‘soul’ or the life blood of a business.  It is how people behave when no one is watching. The right culture for one business may not be right for another, however in their book “Built to Last”, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras noted “companies that consistently focused on building strong corporate cultures over a period of several decades outperformed companies that did not by a factor of six”.

To make sure the culture in your business supports your future success, here are my top 10 tips for creating a great workplace culture

  1. It starts from the top: Great mangers who lead by example are the linchpin of a productive culture. They can extract at least two times more capability from their people than poor leaders. The challenge is that not all advisers specialise in people management and therefore need to be even more diligent about walking the walk and behaving as you want others to. It’s a culture deal breaker.
  2. Do a culture stocktake: To be aware of what is really going on you need to understand (and influence) the ‘unwritten ground rules’ and make sure they are used to your advantage.
  3. Know your Employee Value Proposition: Most financial advisers have a client value proposition. This is the exactly the same, just for your people.
  4. Preserve your core: Know your core values and purpose. Be clear on the actions and behaviours required to support them.
  5. Grow a culture DNA: Make cultural fit and alignment with your business values a key component of your hiring, firing and retention processes.
  6. Intangible’s trump: Making people feel appreciated, valued and supported can have the biggest impact. When it comes to impacting culture, “employees rank intangible elements such as regular and candid communications (50%), and access to management/leadership (47%) highest”, found Deloitte’s Core Beliefs and Culture, chairman’s survey.
  7. Less is more: It is as important to work out what you should stop doing as much as the things you should start doing or do differently.
  8. Avoid being a ‘gunna’: Going to do this, going to do that, yet nothing gets done. Rather, narrow your focus and take on fewer more meaningful initiatives than touch on hundreds that never happen. After a conference or PD Day when you return full of excitement and ideas, share them with your team and together prioritise what realistically can be done and by when.
  9. Recognition is gold: People need more frequent recognition, not just for the job done, also for their behaviours and contribution to the bigger picture. In the Workforce Mood Tracker 2011 Report they found “69% of employees would work harder if they were better recognised”. Sometimes a simple ‘thank you’ does the job
  10. Think extremely different: Embed ‘nowadays’ initiatives across the business. For example:
  • Flexibility around when, where and how people work. That’s what technology, clouds, virtual solutions and 24 hours are designed for;
  • Schedule time out to encourage creative thinking and innovation. Sometimes called ‘FedEx’ days because after 24 hours employees need to deliver their findings;
  • Find mentors in younger generations. Use them as thought leaders around IT, technology and social media.

An inspiring and healthy culture is critical to long term sustainable business success.

It can also be your biggest competitive advantage!


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