Having worked in the theme park industry for the last 15 years, I really learnt the importance of workplace culture and how, if treated right, it can be the key driver for everything else in the business. Businesses exist to make a profit, but they can take a variety of routes to get there. When thinking about what route to take there is a great saying to consider “how can you expect your customers to love your company if your staff don’t love it first?”.
Think of workplace culture as a motor vehicle. A vehicle is simply a means of getting somewhere. The driver can take passengers and together they can enjoy the journey as they head towards a destination. There will be compliance issues (registration, wof’s, police checks), obstacles (road works, slips), difficult decisions around what direction to take (depends on the destination!) and so on, but they navigate and negotiate these together to stay on track. A vehicle carries people, but when you think about it, so does organisational culture.
Using this analogy in a business sense, the destination is equivalent to the vision of the company (where you’d like to end up), the vehicle is the means of getting there or the strategic plan, the driver is the leader (business owner or CEO) alongside other front seat passengers (senior leadership team). The other passengers in the car represent the engaged employees.
The feeling in the car or the way people are singing along to the music represents the strategic alignment of the team, all singing off the same song sheet. The group of people left behind or getting out of the car are the disengaged employees.
It is often said that ‘Culture is King’. The staff culture will set the platform for the customer experience, so the question needs to be asked ‘have we done everything we can from an organisational perspective to provide the framework, foundation and culture for our staff to excel?’
I learnt very quickly that the way you treat your people, particularly when in a leadership position, will either positively or negatively fuel an organisational culture. The leadership style will influence the way others in the company express themselves and whatever those behaviours are, whether positive of negative, will eventually become normalised behaviours through the organisation.
Get the organisational culture right and everything else will follow.
Chris Deere – The Alternative Board Auckland South