Posts Tagged 'Decisions'

Symbols that create a culture

Whenever I visit a prospective or new client I find myself looking around the place with my eyes wide open. I love sitting in reception areas, watching people – the way they interact with each other, with visitors, with the receptionist. I love looking at the environment and the symbols that begin to describe the culture of each organisation. And as I start my process of observations I wonder how much thought and effort each organisation puts in to these symbols. Let me explain what I mean………

In a series of visits to one client my understanding of their culture has grown, mainly through the symbols that I’ve observed.

First impressions at reception were of a bustling, professional, modern, people focused business. The triggers that created this impression for me were down to the welcome I received at the reception desk, observing the way workers greeted each other walking in to the building, the design of the reception area and the noise and smells coming from the cafe based just beyond the reception area. My first meeting was then held in a bright, modern room and as I walked through the office I noticed bright space, lots of photos, posters and objects that represented the work done by the people on that floor.

My impression of the culture, based on these symbols was of a modern, bustling and people focused business.

Several weeks later, with several visits to different parts of the office, I see symbols of the culture which are very contradictory.

The first contradiction, is the different environments that exist floor by floor, function by function. What I described on my first visit seems to be isolated to that particular area. In other parts of the business I see different desk lay outs – some looking as though they haven’t changed for 20 years and some being incredibly modern. What is coming through in the culture of the organisation is that all these different parts of the business, with their different working environments, work as separate entities. Whilst they are all sitting in the same building, working under the same corporate name there is nothing obvious that holds them together as one company.

Another symbol that has fascinated me in this and other offices, are the kitchens. First impression in this particular office is of a modern area with a space for people to meet and chat and prepare their food – it seemed to reinforce a people culture. On the first day, when I was going to spend some time in the business my client gave a cursory nod of the head as we walked past the kitchen and said “This is the kitchen if you need it” After I settled in to a desk (another symbol of the culture) I went to find a glass of water from the kitchen – only to find a kitchen with no glasses, no cups, no tea, no coffee and no utensils. I asked what this was about and was told that it’s meant to be environmentally better for people to bring their own things. And it would seem that visitors are meant to go thirsty.

My experience of the office layout and the kitchen environment began to create a perspective of the culture of this organisation. My point here is really about consciousness – are the leaders and decision makes conscious of the symbols that communicate? Are they making decisions based on the culture that they want to create or are the symbols contradictory to and therefore damaging other efforts to develop the organisations culture?

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Is change management here to stay?

Out in the market place change management is growing in acceptance and understanding. More and more organisations are putting it on the agenda, recruiting people in to change management roles. It is shifting in to the everyday vocabulary of HR, Project teams and Executives.

Well done to all those who have been influencing this thinking – change management is here, taking its place on the corporate agenda. This is great news for all of us involved, who are sure of its relevance and importance.

So how come – when so much is being said about change management, so many people are calling themselves change managers and so many organisations have change management on the agenda – how come I am feeling underwhelmed by what is being achieved?

What I see happening in organisations at the moment is great news, yet I feel that for change management to stay in the corporate agenda something needs to change.

Great inroads are being made in to introducing change methodologies in to organisations, and no reputable project manager would consider having a project plan without a change management stream. This is good, is it enough? I think the answer to this is NO.

It’s absolutely right to have the change management methodologies in place. To stay on the corporate agenda and for the change management star to shine, there needs to be more.

I think the emphasis needs to shift to managing change rather than change management. A subtle shift yet one that will make a difference. Doing this will:

1. Include discussions about managing change in all strategic business thinking and decisions. If you are asking the questions – how will we achieve our goals? You will be thinking about the way you will manage change.

2. Make it a priority for all leaders and managers. Managing change isn’t just the responsibility of the change manager, the project manager or HR. Leaders and managers should be asking themselves “What do I need to do today for my team to be productive and how do I manage the changes necessary for us to be productive in the future?”

Focusing on managing change rather than change management will also bring about a shift in the role of the change manager. Whilst using change methodologies should be there, they should be the tools the change manager uses to have relevant conversations. The change manager should become more of a facilitator, an influencer and part of the decision-making leadership team.

I see all this being particularly relevant when you are looking at cultural change. It lifts the change management emphasis beyond the mechanics to a more exciting and useful place in the business.

It’s up to all change managers to create and be part of this shift so managing change becomes a strategic leadership discussion. Good luck to everyone involved in creating this future.

This blog appeared as a guest blog for the Australian College of Change Management on 1st November 2011

We must have open and honest communication

How many times have you heard this being said in your organisation? Or seen it as one of your company’s values?

I often run focus groups or interview people in organisations to understand what they want in their communication and inevitably this comes out – we must have open and honest conversations. When I probe this a little bit further it unearths all sorts of issues – for me it’s a communication and organisational minefield.

Organisationally or as a leader I really think you are shooting yourself in the foot if you put this one out as one of your values or principles. Continue reading ‘We must have open and honest communication’

The pace of life in organisations today is taking its toll.

Expectations put on people in organisations to perform seem to be mounting. The pressure to answer all your emails in minutes, the pressure to work to tight deadlines, the pressure to deliver, deliver and deliver some more – it’s all taking its toll.

And one area that seems to be suffering in particular is the ability to have strong working relationships. It seems odd to me that there is a wealth of evidence that shows that strong relationships make a difference to our productivity yet less and less time can be given to building these relationships in the work place. Building relationships takes time and effort, it involves talking to people having (productive) face to face meetings and getting to know the people you are dealing with. Continue reading ‘The pace of life in organisations today is taking its toll.’

Not another meeting

Been in a meeting lately? How was it for you?

It is estimated that most professionals spend approximately 50% of their working time in meetings and anywhere between 35 to 50% of that time is considered to be wasted.

It is likely that these figures are now on the low side; so let’s consider what impact this is having on the bottom line for your business?

In 2002 there was $120bn in wages spent on time wasted in Australia businesses. A large percentage of this coming from time wasted in meetings and the repercussions of this.

If you want to reduce the cost to your business by improving your meetings take a look at the Kandula guide to Meetings with purpose