Developing culture and values in the workplace

Amy Honeywell reflects on the recent Engage for Success Milton Keynes session, where speakers, including EFS Co-founder David MacLeod, discussed workplace culture and values.

March 9, 2018

Innovation is changing the way businesses think. The pressure to perform no longer comes only from competitors, but the idea that a new concept could change the nature of an entire industry. Much like how Uber swept across the world, making traditional taxi ranks redundant in many cases, this kind of foundational change threatens the futures of many companies.

However, a strategic solution, although tempting, isn’t the way forward when ensuring you have a workforce that is ready to deal with sudden change. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” David MacLeod said, “we must look at the bigger picture as external pressures bear down on an organisation.”

The strains felt by a workplace are too often harsh management and command and control, which lead to work intensification. These contrast greatly to what employees typically want from work, which is inclusion, empowerment, fairness and trust, and meaning and purpose. This causes a culture collision, the outcome of which is low trust between a workforce and senior leadership.

David said: “Seven out of ten employees are neutral or do not trust their bosses. Therefore they are already mentally out of the door.

“A disengaged workforce leads to low confidence, low ownership of tasks, less efficiency, low agility, and less innovation.”

As employers, we have the choice to squeeze, control and monitor our workforces, or to inspire, respect and trust them. Creating a culture where people are the solution, not the problem, makes employees more invested in a business when it goes through times of change or when things get tough.

According to David, there are four key enablers that help a workforce to feel valued.

  • Organisational integrity – a company’s values are reflected in day-to-day behaviour. Behaviours are explicit and are bought into by staff, so be genuine as people see through a corporate spin.
  • Enable employee voice – the job of the senior leadership team is not to command and control an organisation but to ensure that the right conversations are happening between the right people.
  • Engaging managers – great managers will focus staff and enable the job to get done. Positively reinforce good work but don’t turn a blind eye to dysfunctional behaviour as this undermines your authority and gives everyone permission to act that way.
  • Strategic narrative – strong leadership provides a strong strategic narrative about the organisation. Employees need to understand the context of the work they are doing and the journey they are part of.

To find out more about culture and values in the workplace and Engage for Success, visit engageforsuccess.org

To find out more about the Milton Keynes Engage for Success group or to join the mailing list for future events, email Sue Kiddy.

A disengaged workforce leads to low confidence, low ownership of tasks, less efficiency, low agility, and less innovation.