Welcome to The Work Place, where we’re hot on the trail of what makes great workplace cultures tick, and what we can all do to make the ones we work in better.
This episode, we’ll be talking with Tim Kuppler about how workplace culture evolves and what we can do to guide it in the right direction like the tiny cultural tugboats we are.
Join us after the interview for Tangible Takeaways, where we’ll talk about the ideas and actions we can take with us and implement our own workplace cultures.
Tim Kuppler is the Director of Culture and Organisation Development with Human Synergistics, a pioneer in the field of workplace culture and leadership assessment and development. He’s also the co-founder of cultureuniversity.com and author of Build the Culture Advantage.
Tim was interviewed by David Sturt, an Executive Vice President at O.C. Tanner, New York Times bestselling author, and my benevolent boss.
Now it’s time for Tangible Takeaways, where we take big ideas for a shopping spree on Chicago’s magnificent mile and spoil them with outfits from all the hottest designers: Burberry, Prada, Kenzi, and Svalbard, a brand so high-end, it only has one store and no one’s allowed in.
1. The first is that workplace cultures evolve on their own. As much as we may want to control them, we can’t, really. The best we can do is guide and shape them. But that doesn’t mean we’re powerless. Far from it. It all starts with a clear understanding of why. WHY are we trying to change our cultures? And what outcomes do we want to achieve by doing so? This is the crux of intentional cultures. As clear as our vision is for change, we’ll always have to have checkpoints along the way, so you can adjust and refine to account for cultural drift. Tim suggests holding involvement meetings with key stakeholders every 6 months for as much as 10 years to gather feedback and adjust priorities, which sounds daunting, but that’s the kind of long-term thinking that leads to the very best cultures.
2. The second is that while we want our cultures to be built on a foundation of shared values and a common purpose, the real drivers of culture are often unwritten, unspoken rules and norms. This is why workplace culture is such a tricky thing to try and shape. Because most times, it shapes itself. No one wants unconscious biases, presumed communication styles, and a tendency to default to traditional leadership in their workplace culture. But there they are, lurking in the shadows, digging their roots into your people and preventing real change from happening. So as much as you need to preach the gospel of what your ideal culture should be, and you do, it’s at least as important to say what it shouldn’t be.
3. The third is that the future of workplace culture has never been more unknown. Right now, we’re in a moment of upheaval and unpredictability. Out of which could come any number of new paradigms. Good or bad. But hopefully good. It’s springtime on the farm, and the earth is ready to be tilled. So start up your tractor, grab a seed bag, and don’t forget to feed the chickens, they get cranky when they’re hungry.
As always, this episode was written by yours truly—with original music and sound design by Daniel Foster Smith.
The Work Place is sponsored by O.C. Tanner, the global leader in engaging workplace cultures. O.C. Tanner’s Culture Cloud™ provides a single, modular suite of apps for influencing and improving employee experiences through recognition, career anniversaries, wellbeing, leadership, and more.
If you want your organisation to become a place where people can’t wait to come to work in the morning, go to octanner.com/uk/.
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