Breakfast Buffet

The pandemic did a real number on workplace culture. Now that it’s (kind of) (mostly) (hopefully) behind us, the time has come to rebuild. But how? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • new Gallup study on the state of the global workforce found that employee stress is at an all-time high.
  • The same study found that only 21% of employees are feeling engaged at work.
  • All of this is hurting workplace culture. According to new research from Gartner, only 24% of knowledge workers report feeling connected to their organization’s culture.
  • The same research found that most HR leaders are struggling to adapt their culture to address this problem.
  • Why does all of this matter? Peter Drucker once observed that “culture eats strategy for breakfast“.
  • If Drucker was right, there are a LOT of strategies currently being consumed at what might well be the largest breakfast buffet in business history.
  • So what can you do to improve the culture on your team and prevent your beloved strategy from being devoured with a side of bacon?
  • We like NOBL’s take: culture itself is organic and emerges on its own. But it’s affected by some things you CAN control, like structures and systems.
  • Structures can be hard to shift but systems—the “meetings, decision-making processes, tools, and norms that employees adopt to get things done”—are easier to tweak.
  • Here’s a simple but powerful systems change to optimize culture for a hybrid workplace: treat all employees as if they were remote, regardless of where they’re sitting at the moment.
  • This could include things like making asynchronous collaboration the norm, establishing clear communications boundaries and documenting everything so others can get up to speed easily.
  • According to Katarina Berg, the best way to strengthen culture in the shifting hybrid landscape is to focus on meeting your team’s basic human needs. Specifically the need for belonging.
  • Hubert Joly offers an expanded set of core needs for leaders to consider: meaning, human connections, autonomy, psychological safety, mastery and a growth mindset.
  • He also recommends taking the time to articulate your organization or team’s cultural aspirations in a single, simple statement.
  • When he was CEO of Best Buy, their cultural mantra was simple and succinct: “We are at our best when we play the role of an inspiring friend”. This became a system for shaping the organic evolution of the culture.
  • Joly also offers this tip for leaders working on strengthening culture: “Leaders signal change and shape the culture through their own behavior and actions. Leadership is about creating the environment that will enable the purpose and the strategy to come to life.”
Issue #145
Jun 19, 2022

Further Reading