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The first half of this year has had to be about safety, containment, continuity and contingency, the second half will need to focus on engagement, motivation and productivity. However, right now I’m guessing that most owners, managers and leaders in business and organisations are not at home thinking about their culture as they prepare for the return to the workplace.
The reality is most leaders will be consumed by contingency planning and how to practically return to work and start delivering, producing and growing their business. For many, a return to the workplace will be about how to survive first and foremost. We need to be returning to survive and thrive. We can only survive and thrive if we focus on engagement, motivation and performance.
Focusing on culture right now, is one of the most powerful things that could be done. The reason for this is building your culture is 8x more likely to impact successful performance than strategy alone and the reality is your business can never outperform its culture. Culture both elevates and stabilises, it can also undermine and annihilate any business. We have many examples of this in the world.
Culture is developed and living because of the people, it is the values, the motives and behaviours of all your employees. It is the way relationships are built and managed in your business and it is the what and why of your business.
When we all walked out the door on the 23rd of March the culture of your organisation went with your people, the way it returns in Level 2 and 1 and beyond will be very dependent on what you are doing now and what you do when your employees re-enter the work site and building. Every day in isolation each of your employees will be making observations about you, your business and their role in your organisation. Some questions they might be considering include; How has remote working worked for me? Have I been productive and engaged? How have I been enabled to perform? Have I been contacted and felt connected? Have you demonstrated to me that I matter? Have you been transparent in your communication? Have you communicated hope? Do you know how I feel, and most importantly do you care?
We have had to be physically distant, but we have needed to be socially connected, probably more than we have ever been before. Managers in so many ways have had to be up close and personal. What actions you do now and what you have done has a far greater impact than anything you say. The old adage “actions speak louder than words” is so pertinent right now. All employees will have a perception of your business and you. For each, their individual perception is their truth.
You can’t change culture unless you are able to see and talk about behaviour. It is mindsets that will drive behaviour and behaviour that will achieve results. Recognise that your mindset about your business and people impacts on your behaviour and therefore the results you will achieve. Leaders need to demonstrate a stronger emotional intelligence and focus on building both their self-awareness and social awareness.
Leaders at every level in the organisation must be talking to their people, talking in a way that enables rich conversation and stronger relationships.
Building a business, organisational culture that will thrive in the post pandemic era will separate the winners from the losers. You can’t go back to what it was, but you can build on the strengths of your organisation and focus on building the new way of working that will work for all. The truth is every single person in your business/organisation will need to be engaged in a new and possibly creative way. You don’t need to have all the answers, engage your people in the rebuild.
Some of you will be stepping into unscripted space, you have never been here before. Showing a determination to build an above the line culture to work harder to build trust, manage tension and keep all of your teams working collaboratively will make the difference. Never forget that people aren’t your greatest asset, they aren’t the key resource. People are your business, people are your organisation.
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