I’ve been fortunate recently to travel to Dubai and carry out phase one of my Culture Capitaliser programmes for a company based in the Middle East with ambitious growth plans and an MD who totally ‘gets’ the importance of a healthy, high-performing culture – bravo!
It was the first time I’d been back to visit since leaving 6 ½ years ago and I’d forgotten what a melting pot the place is. Diversity is such a hot topic in the UK but the diversity of Dubai can’t be beaten – the company I was with had 14 people in its senior leadership team spanning 11 different nationalities!
What’s so fantastic about this real diversity is that you continuously learn from it being privy to lots of different perspectives, attitudes and beliefs which widen your mind and expand your perspective.
Interestingly, the results of the Barrett Culture Values Assessment (CVA) that this company undertook with me showed a relatively united response and weren’t as diverse as their nationalities. ‘Accountability’ topped the tables from both a personal value and a desired organisational value, which demonstrated the strength of that desired value.
‘Accountability’ seems to span sectors and countries and in my experience tends to be the value that pops up more consistently than most. Obviously there’s two sides to the coin when it comes to accountability. There can be frustration around not feeling or being made accountable and responsible; but on the flip side there can be a feeling of other colleagues not taking accountability or responsibility. That’s why it’s always important to dig a little deeper with assessment results and understand the sentiment and root cause that sits behind them.
Gartner’s recent research has been enlightening and it highlights three missteps that thwart culture change, ‘don’t measure culture with data alone’; ‘don’t use simple adjectives to describe culture and use language to inspire’ and ‘don’t forget to alter policies to support culture change’. I agree with all three.
The company I worked with in Dubai were in the advertising/experiential sector and as part of the designed workshop, I got them to work together to create some phenomenally inspiring values and behaviours from a design and sentiment perspective - they certainly nailed the ‘don’t use simple adjectives to describe culture and use language to inspire'. Quite something when the 'accountability' value isn't exactly inspiring and doesn't pull on the heart strings! Everyone was hugely excited to be part of this aspirational work and the results were exceptional. It’s given me food for thought for other companies I work with in the future to bring about the same type of results!
I read an interesting blog recently ‘Stop holding your team accountable and hold them capable’ which I loved. Thank you Matthew Gould! As we all know accountability is the responsibility of an individual alone. However, the value can cause stress, fear and frustration amongst other things. It also has connotations of control and blame, and although important to get right, is uninspiring to most as mentioned above.
So how about flipping the approach and as a leader “hold your team capable” and not accountable and be responsible for enhancing their capability? Engagement surveys and the Culture Assessment I carry out usually show the desire for self-improvement so there’s a great opportunity to champion the people around you; consciously think of how to build on their strengths; unlock how they can add value and encourage the concept of shared ownership and maximising performance. Not only is this forward-focused and creates great, positive energy, it will bring about a high-performing culture that everyone can buy into and feel proud of.
My Culture Capitaliser Model has a Capability bucket and looks at it with an all-angled lens. When most people think ‘capability’ they think about enhancing the skillset of colleagues, however it encapsulates so much more. Culture mustn’t be tinkered with but looked at as a whole system change:
Is the structure currently capable of enabling a high-performing culture?
Are the processes and systems at their most capable to maximise performance?
Do all people initiatives align and are they capable of recognising people who demonstrate the right values and achieve the right outcomes?
Are the values the right ones and capable of delivering the purpose, vision and strategy or do they need a reset?
Food for thought….if you need any help with your culture change programme and want to find out, do get in touch @ firstname.lastname@example.org. I’ll leave you with feedback from my client in Dubai which hopefully demonstrates the value I can add to your business and its performance.
Our expectations were by far exceeded with this expertly crafted intervention - comprising both top leadership and full employee workshops. The week ended on such a high note and we achieved amazing insights and shared understanding across our employee group. Thank you Joss, we have made a great start to this journey and look forward to seeing you again!
Jenny Hamdan MAHRM CIPD, MENA TALENT DIRECTOR, OGILVY AND GEOMETRY GLOBAL.