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  • Matt Sal

How to own and embed a positive work culture

Respect.

Integrity.

Communication.

Excellence.


Do these values look familiar? Maybe they are similar to your company values; the ones your business has somewhere on your website. Maybe they help frame a company e-mail every now and again.


Actually those were Enron’s values.


We could play the same game with Purpose, Vision, and Mission statements that are equally likely to live on a website and in reports, but not really lived as part of work culture.


…so can work culture be defined by organisational principles such as these, or is something else needed?


Trick question. The answer, as we see it, is yes and yes.


It is imperative that an organisation has these principles to act as guiding lights. Call them North Star statements for behaviour. However, the way they are arrived at and articulated is crucial to them being authentic and truly felt by employees.

In addition, it is not enough to simply have them, they need to be embedded in the day-to-day. As we go through our working day we need principles to help our decision making, inform our interactions, guide our behaviour, and appeal to our sense of intent and meaning.

If you’re reading this, you likely don’t need to be convinced of the business benefits of a positive work culture. You don’t need me to reel off stats relating to positive effects on productivity, customer satisfaction, innovation, retention, talent attraction, and endless others. You understand that a good work culture can help put you on the path to creating a favourable operating environment in which you, your colleagues, and your business can flourish.


At JustOne, we believe a good work culture is an ongoing exercise in active curation.

Aligned to our purpose ‘to spark positive change’, we believe that good work culture should be owned by the business by:

  • embedding it into processes,

  • ensuring the leadership team steward it,

  • and that each individual employee is empowered to live, curate, and help evolve it.

In defining the North Star statements and principles; whether purpose, vision, mission or values, we must challenge ourselves to get to the core of the needs and priorities of our stakeholders (both current and future) and understand how our business contributes to the world.

We must bring stakeholder voices into the decision making process, even those that have no organised voice such as local communities, customers, and even the environment. Much like a sustainability materiality process, finding the appropriate data and information to base decisions from is key to ensuring a relevant and holistic approach.


If a business has used this approach to creating its statements, it’s already ahead of most…... but as discussed we need to go one step further in order for this exercise to be truly valuable. We need to embed and implement. I doubt you came here for a list of business functions and processes into which you can embed these things, so instead here are some insights you may find useful that we at JustOne have come across through our work in this area:

  • Forces for change. Understanding the forces for, and the forces against, embedding and implementing. This can take the form of people and personalities, power dynamics, existing relationships, external stakeholders, or just processes which are complicated and tricky to change. Mapping the way forward and understanding challenges for implementation is a key step in any business transformation and this should be treated no differently.

  • Safety in numbers. Employees should have been bought along this journey from the beginning. Regardless, it is important that they are able to discuss the work culture which is being created and curated and that they feel safe in never being alone or unheard on this journey.

  • Empowerment. It would be unfair to expect employees to simply understand and implement the North Star statements from the get-go. This will take time and resource to equip them with the right language and tools, support them in changing any processes in their day-to-day, take on board any ideas they have, and upskill them appropriately.

JustOne offers the following workshops and services for our clients. These complement our sustainability strategy process but also work well as stand-alone set pieces for organisations that want to focus on specific areas in developing a good work culture.


· Purpose Creation
· Embedding Purpose
· Values Creation
· Values Implementation
· Forces for Change
· Executive Training
· Staff Surveys

If you would like to know more or discuss this blog with us please email matt.sal@justone.uk


Matt is Associate Director at JustOne.


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