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Are you really accountable for culture without visibility?

Updated: Mar 17, 2023

We called it early, 2023 is the year of re-engagement, we’re now going to add it's also the year to get accountable for workplace culture! But how can you create accountability for something that is mostly intangible?

Make it tangible and the only way to do that is by bringing visibility to culture.

Visibility shines a light on what’s already there, it doesn’t change anything.

It either confirms or negates leaders' gut feel on what's happening throughout the organisation. It provides insight into where your energy is best placed and where the risks lie. If as leaders we can better use our energy for maximum results and work to minimise risk, isn’t that good for business, good for people, good for customers?

So why do we shy away from it?

Are we worried our status will be impacted or do we simply avoid confronting the real issues? There may be shame in what could come to light. Or is it just in the too hard basket! At PeopleQ we ultimately believe it's human nature to avoid difficult, unknown, and complex situations. Well actually scientifically we know our brain steers away from anything that may feel uncertain. But we need to cut through the fear in making culture visible.

Don’t put this into the too hard basket because when you start to address culture, you start to address the real issues an organisation is facing.

Bringing visibility to culture, also means addressing what it is we want instead. And those willing to invest energy, in a disciplined fashion, acknowledging culture as fundamental to strategy, go the distance.

We can’t really know how well culture is if we rely solely on our leaders perspectives, based on gut feel or intuition. Bringing visibility to culture adds factual data to these stories. And whilst there are strong signs of a poor culture, high turnover, reduced revenue, high absenteeism, high error rate, poor customer satisfaction, inefficiencies, customer losses etc, sometimes the journey to these red flags is a path of subtle signs along the way, that if missed, can be catastrophic.

Visibility over culture brings these subtle signs into view faster.

We may make it sound easy, but we know workplace culture is not easy to lead. We want to acknowledge that it is complex because we are talking about humanising the workplace, and the systems within which we operate are becoming more complex than ever before, being aware of this means we can embark on starting our workplace culture journey.

When it comes to visibility, let’s consider what’s emerged to date. The once a year or pulse surveys, are they enough, what's wrong or right with them? Is an engagement survey all we need to know about culture? Engagement is a small piece of the puzzle and once a year / pulse surveys may be influenced by time sensitive contextual aspects, so there is limited value in working with parts of culture, parts of the time.

And what role do leaders’ play? Quite frankly if leaders are key drivers of culture, shouldn't they play a key role in bringing visibility to culture? Once you know what culture you want, consider building it into your leaders' job descriptions to generate accountability. Regular workplace culture check-ins and performance reviews are wonderful ways of collecting parts of the data needed to make culture more visible, as well as turnover and absenteeism rates and understanding industry benchmarks. Turning this into useful data for leaders and teams can be quite cumbersome as well as some of the data being flawed by biases! You can make it effortless to collect useful data on culture, unbiased and 360, and we know how.

Also lets just clarify, we are not suggesting leaders alone remain accountable, we are merely suggesting leaders as a starting point. And because it's a starting point, it also doesn't mean we are suggesting an end point.

Culture is not a project, it is a continuous effort, where everyone is accountable from employees to leaders, stakeholders and boards.

Finally, what if you’ve already got a great culture, euphoria right! You’ve done the hard yards to get here, we don't need to see it to sustain it? Thinking you’ve done enough could fall short.

Visibility is both a starting point and a way to sustain your workplace culture efforts!

It boils down to this, the ones who don't want to do the work the organisation needs, avoid visibility because working with culture requires us to think deeply simultaneously about people, customers, systems and the complexity of our environments. And that takes energy, effort, focus and discipline.

Time for a culture assessment check-point? Download our free culture assessment tool here.

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Want to know how we can help? Download our culture tool flyer here.

Why PQ Factor_2023
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Contact us to schedule a demo of our culture tool, PQfactor


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