Culture programmes’ a tool for organisational development .....
‘Cultural Management’ is crucial for HR professionals. Nevertheless, most ignored it till recently. An important perspective of change, cultural management deals with developing new patterns of behaviour and mindsets among employees. Having realised this some organisations have initiated several culture awareness programmes.
Changes at workplace like economy drives and other cost cutting measures may or may not be acceptable to employees. Any reengineering process must thus consider employees’ apprehensions and opinions.
Gideon Haigh, author “Bad Company: The cult of CEO”, rightly defines culture as “ something that registers in routines and rituals, lore and legend.
”Today’s corporate culture mirrors an organisation’s beliefs, practices and people. It aims to instill shared values, openness and impartial decision-making fostering creativity and cultivating trust.
Culture programmes are a step forward in this direction. They aim at unifying and incorporating a belief system in the organisation developing a unique behavioural code. This eases anticipation of the outcome of employees’ behaviour. Managements that conduct these programmes create ideal internal environments preparing employees for emergencies.
The goal is to create an organisational environment where behaviour and employees’ value systems together enhance organisational productivity. Employee buy-in is critical for these cultural programmes to succeed.
Diversity and creativity
Organisations with employees sharing a common vision, goals and channelised workforce working in a preset environment boast of rich culture. These qualities alone may not reflect culture. Thus, organisations should initiate a proactive culture that encourages diversity, creativity and knowledge sharing.
Implications and benefits
Changes in the organisational structure or processes bring a change in employee relations. In consequence workplace attitudes too change. Organisations are now creating “designer employees” to foster better relations. These employees understand market requirements and the organisation’s business needs better.
Designer employees are comfortable when trained for efficiency and allowed flexibility in the work environment.
Attrition rates and the resultant knowledge drain are major concerns of organisations today. To prevent knowledge drain, organisations need to codify knowledge. Codifying enables easy identification of knowledge resources and ensures replenishment of the same. Culture programmes aid in codifying this knowledge thereby bringing stability to the organisation.
Culture programmes propound transparent organisations and employee participation in the decision making process. Employees thereby become more responsible, committed and accountable to their work. Culture programmes thus empower employees.
Culture programmes helped Allens Arthur Robinson, a law firm, accept change. Consequent to a merger, the company’s workforce increased by 1700 employees. Most of these employees had low tolerance levels.
The company conducted a series of meetings with the employees to come to a consensus on the organisation’s work environment and goals. Based on the information they developed a new set of values. The objective was to create a sense of bonding among the employees and the company.
‘Breakthrough’ at NAB
At NAB (National Australia Bank), the effect of cultural programmes was pervasive. The programme was called “Breakthrough”. The primary objective of the programme was to the change the bank’s operational style and the working style of the employees. Over 500 employees participated in the workshops. The workshops focused on:
. The scope of the employees’ jobs
. Their work procedures
These activities necessitated analysis of the resources available for employees’ use. The research concentrated more on areas related to customer service. It proved to be a process of knowledge capture.
Knowledge capture at NAB not only controlled knowledge drain but also aided efficient problem solving. The management is now equipped with information essential to resolve various issues and conflicts of the employees. This apart, it initiated employees to resolve their problems.
‘Breakthrough’ brought a change in employee mindsets and their behaviour. The organisational operations are transparent resulting in enhanced trust, accountability and ready acceptance of responsibility among employees.Employees’ regular use of phrases such as “getting on the balcony” and “staying above the line” widely used during programme illustrate employees acceptance and the programme’s success.
‘Breakout’ At ANZ
ANZ too insisted on the change of mindsets and created an empowered workforce through its programme called “Breakout”. The HR at ANZ initiated the task of redesigning the jobs and work processes. The employees actively participated in the discussions on redesigning. They welcomed the forums.
Woodside, the energy giant too has adopted culture programmes with Mckinsey’s help to enhance productivity. The company initially started with cost cutting measures and restructuring its processes. This did not fetch profits. A study into the causes revealed that the restructuring processes were not in line with the mission and vision of the company.
Another significant aspect of the culture change programmes was to boost the company’s performance to the next higher level. Woodside used opinion surveys as a key tool to manage culture and incorporate changes suitably. The company has partially accomplished its goals. Some of the outcomes are
. Regular performance reviews
. A performance based reward structure
. Decision-making processes in line with the organisational goals and values
Woodside’s vision was to be ” A successful operator of oil and gas facilities”. Its vision statement now is to be “ In service to society in providing energy solutions.”
Changes in the attitude towards leadership are conspicuous. The employees are encouraged to be leaders and convey their point of view while adhering to their beliefs and not compromising.
The culture programmes at Woodside changed the interpersonal relationships at work. Integrity and respectability have become key to the relationships. Employees are no longer apprehensive about approaching their seniors and expressing their doubts and views. Thus, workplace bullying has been eliminated.
Though culture programmes were believed to be issue invading the privacy of employees, Woodside, efficiently tackled it. This was easy since the employees believed in devoting substantial time for completion of the tasks assigned.
Woodside, also realised that to effect performance, employees had to rely on other resources which would create stress. Thenceforth, at Woodside the statement “ I need your help” is welcomed with gusto.
Towards effective delivery of culture programmes
Assessment: HR must audit employee’s views and collate the feedback for a clear understanding of the prevalent culture. This helps structuring the new set of values.
Value statement: Audit of the opinions helps form a value statement representing the organisation’s image.
Workshops: Consultation workshops must be conducted in order to acquire the most favoured opinion across all functions of the organisation.
Be a role model
Organisations must emulate these Australian companies to change employee mindset and conform to their organisational requirements. By effectively managing employee differences, organisations can become role models.