When I moved from Scotland to England some colloquialisms did not travel well while some enjoyed a more universal understanding. One phrase that did travel well is 'walking the talk', the importance of actually doing what you said you would do - the mark of good management and leadership
Some organisations spend a great deal of time and money conducting organisational development exercises to improve culture and morale. However, they can often fail to make any real changes and staff surveys continue to report poor results.
I was recently reviewing a charter developed by one organisation and some of the key actions were as follows:
ensure staff have clear objectives;
speak well of each other;
respect each other;
don't blame, be constructive;
promote a healthy work/life balance.
All hugely laudable but worth nothing if no-one walks the talk.
Money and, just as importantly, time spent investing in the framework is all very well.
But if the rosy glow of the culture improvement charter does not filter down below senior leadership, it just makes everyone feel they have 'done something' even though there has, in reality, been no change at all.
Senior leaders might seemingly accept the charter but have no commitment or belief in its delivery.
A sure sign of things not being right is avoiding the corridors in case they might meet staff.
But how can it work? Genuine buy-in from the top; management modelling the changes they want to see; and, importantly, senior managers policing each other, are all essential.
If someone is not toeing the line, they must be told by their peers and not expect people who are junior to them to provide that service. For a more junior member of staff to tell someone more senior where they are failing requires an enormous amount of courage and in poorly performing organisations it could produce a very negative response. Senior colleagues of your own standing are key to supporting new values.
Good leaders and bosses will get the staff they deserve: hard working, enthusiastic and committed. What is really disappointing is that bad leaders and bosses often have the same kind of staff but they do not notice.
By all means use the resources available to spend the time on key strategic thinking and forward development, but please make it a real culture change, not lip service. Otherwise you end up with even more disillusioned staff and less productivity - not a good place to be.
A couple of weeks ago I was still at my desk at about 7pm - not unusual for most of us, I would argue - but my current boss came in and asked me why I was working late and wasn't it time to go home? Now that's the way to promote a 'team beam'. Are you doing your bit to promote a healthy workplace?