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Refocus: From Engagement To Culture Management

Posted by Mathew French

28 April 2016

Word on the street is that HR needs to adjust its focus from engagement to the more appropriate 'culture management' if business wants to really create workplaces that employees want to be a part of, and will be willing to make a long term commitment to. A recent article on HR Daily indicates that this shift will require HR to focus on 'Employees' relationships and emotions, their sense of meaning and purpose, Leadership capabilities and behaviours, and how these factors align with organisational goals.' The time has also come for organisations to pair this culture management focus with filling the gaps in organisational culture and for the purpose of creating more well rounded, human workplaces.

Your Culture Is Your Foundation

Culture is the foundation from which great businesses grow, if your culture is shaky, so are the very foundations of your organisation. Your culture is also the container in which your employees understand how you want them to act and behave in terms of your organisational vision, values and goals. Culture management therefore, is the way in which Leadership, Management and HR align to provide a roadmap, and then finesse performance, to create the type of environment that your employees never want to leave (as well as improving your bottom line). Building this culture oriented foundation into your business gives you a roadmap to engagement that is unshakable and obvious. Ultimately, culture describes the way things work within your organisation, while engagement describes how people feel about the way things work within your organisation. Get how things work right, and good engagement will follow.

Create Unity Over Confirmity

In The Human Era of business, breaking down silos and removing hierarchies is an essential part of creating a more human workplace culture. Enforcing a top down adherence to values, especially when those in senior positions don't exhibit such values in words and actions, is not conducive to internal cohesion and holistic unity amonst your Employees. If you want everyone in your organisation singing from the same hymn sheet, and doing so voluntarily instead of beacause they feel they have to, then creating a unified workforce is essential. Ensuring that the personal values of Employees align with those of your business is critical, but it also isn't the full equation. If you only attract a particular type of individual when hiring for values alignment, you are potentially skewing the capabilities of your workforce and creating gaps in your culture.

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Hire For Cultural Contributions AND Cultural Fit

In his new book 'Originals' Adam Grant, recognised as one of the World's top 25 Management thinkers, argues that hiring solely for cultural fit is likely to only give you more of the same without really adding anything new. The result will definitely be a temporary boost in motivation and solidarity when new Employees join your organisation, but that boost often dissipates quickly in the face of a less than well rounded workforce. Grant suggests that when the boost of a new member of your organisation tribe drops off, the danger is that your organisation will be susceptible to group think and be ill-equipped to adapt to future changes.

'Originals' elaborates on cultural contribution, outlining how organisations can seek to find new hires that have traits and characteristics which will add something new to your culture that doesn't already exist. HR has an opportunity to step in and find the gaps, identify what is missing, and then strive to strengthen the whole by hiring to fill those gaps. HR Professionals can take up the mantle of helping businesses identify, hire, and support the addition of original thinkers that can bring unique perspectives to what might be an imbalanced cultural environment. Cultivating more human workplace cultures, where the whole person is accepted and encouraged, and out of the box thinkers who may not look like what you commonly expect, are hired for their departure from what's typical and expected, is a bit of departure from the prevailing norm and may seem a little risky. Of course, the foundation of values alignment needs to hold firm, but engaging the strategy of plugging the cultural gaps in your business can make a significant contribution to the health of your company’s bottom-line as well as the robustness of your team.

Make Culture Quantifiable and Measurable

Capturing data about the softer side of the HR equation has historically been a challenge. How do you accurately and fairly measure something like culture or performance? HR technology makes it possible to embed a structural and strategic framework within your organisation that uses culture as the foundation for everything from goals and action plans, to behaviours and actions. Real-time feedback funcationality and the ability give and receive recognition, democratises performance management and makes culture a collaborative process that can grow and improve every day . When you put the keys to the kingdom into the hands of your Employees, and give them the tools to notice, respond, adjust, praise, give thanks and actively participate in building a great culture, then everyone champions what works and corrects what doesn't. Educating Employees about the appropriate manner in which to offer feedback, recognition and constructive criticism is a baseline requirement for getting this part of the cultural equation correct, but when everyone is empowered to participate and benefit from the process, magic happens. Current HR solutions make it possible to create, measure, track, and adjust behaviours and actions against cultural benchmarks in real time. In order to really keep your finger on the pulse of culture management, it is essential to implement the type of systems and processes that make this type of engagement seamless, fully integrated and easy.

Engagement becomes an intrinsic part of an organisation where everyone is involved in the creation of the culture, rather than either being a metric you become a slave to. Offering Employees the opportunity to collaborate and contribute in ways that produce tangible results make them feel like they matter, that they are valued, and that they actually have a say in creating a workplace environment they love. In the year 2016, there is no longer an excuse for a workplace culture that is hierarchical, dictatorial and uninspiring. Yet, you only have to look as far as the latest engagement statistics to understand that this is an issue that many businesses still struggle with. In refocusing from engagement to culture, filling the gaps in your organisation and empowering your Employees to be the creators of, and contributors to your culture, you shift the needle towards the positive on the human workplace culture scale.

Topics: The Human Era, Employee Engagement, culture, Engagement

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