Company values let everyone know your ideal company culture but do they really reflect the truth? Are they meaningful? Do they speak to all staff, no matter what position they sit in? Often it’s the unwritten ground rules that actually constitute a company’s culture.
Unwritten ground rules are rarely talked about openly. They drive employee behaviour, rarely questioned, often referred to by staff “because that’s what we’ve always done it”. But what’s the impact of these ground rules?
Staff perceptions are slowly changed to an attitude of ‘its not worth complaining’, or sharing their ideas/points of view as nothing will get done as “that’s the way we’ve always done it”, or they get sick of rationalising to help them feel better about committing to an act they know is wrong or is completely against what the company is really all about.
Even if you have clear and accessible values there will inevitably be corresponding unwritten ground rules. These rules can have a detrimental affect on staff morale, which leads to cracks in team collaboration, leading to toxicity, and the deconstruction of what was a great well functioning team.
So, how do you reframe your workplace culture?
Firstly, let's gain a shared understanding of what reframing means - thanks to Google - Reframing essentially is a psychological tool used to enable viewing and experiencing events, ideas, concepts and emotions to find more positive alternatives. Simply put, it’s about changing peoples minds, getting them to think and act differently!
If you apply Maslow’s hierarchy of needs when reframing your workplace culture, you will have managers taking responsibility to ensure employees have a safe environment to work in and are paid appropriately. Maslow’s theory also denotes that you will create a proper climate in which employees can shine and exceed their potential. Humans are motivated to take actions on the basis of fulfilling needs. What this looks like, is a workplace where all staff are engaged, actively participating in conversations, sharing their opinions and ideas, learning and collaborating, with a sense of being an important part of the team. Courageous conversations are encouraged and not swept under the carpet.
Culture is the essence of your workplace personality, its character, its what makes your workplace unique, it’s the reason why your clients work with you, it’s the reason why your staff exceed personal bests, its the sum of your workplace traditions, behaviours, beliefs, successes and attitudes. Its why you attract and retain great talent.
By reimagining your values, breathing life back into them or starting fresh, your journey of reframing culture begins and therefore so does the journey of whittling out those unwritten ground rules.
Keep your values simple, catchy and heart felt. Live and breath them and ensure that all senior members of your company are on board, if they aren’t then you need to have one of those conversations.
“I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail” Abraham Maslow.