Author Archives: kalimckay

Culture Surveys and Your Organisation

Measuring culture and attaining data can provide valuable information for any size organisation. How this data is positioned, analysed, and used however is where the real value can be found. Schneider, Ehrhart, and Macey (2013) assert that when looking past Organisational Culture from a scholarly perspective, executives in organisations wish to know what their corporate culture is, understand what they can change and how, and how they can create competitive advantage through organisational culture. Although the first step of the process appears to be the measurement of culture, there are in fact many other steps to consider in the process. Below are some points to consider when measuring employee data in an organisation.

  1. Reasons for engaging in a measurement tool

When implementing a measurement process in an organisation it is important to clearly define the reasons for doing so. Is it for the board, customers, or stakeholders benefit? Is it for the benefit of the executive team to guide future planning? Is it an affirmation to HR that they are on the right track? Or is it to develop the best company in all sense of the word. It is important to set expectations of what will be done with the data. Asking employees to invest time to respond to workplace surveys can inevitably lead them to expect time invested back in explaining the results and strategies for the future. Understanding from the outset the reasons for using the tool is important.

2. Deciding on a measuring tool

Not all survey tools are created equal. In order to have a robust process it is important that the tools used are fit for purpose, and are reliable and valid. Gaining an accurate picture of the current organisational culture means that decisions made about future initiatives are made on the basis of sound data. A sound measuring tool should pass a series of psychometric tests, provide evidence that individual data can be aggregated to the organisational level, and be linked to performance (Denison Culture, 2013).

3. Leveraging the data to create competitive advantage

Once data has been obtained, an action plan around next steps needs to be developed. This can include things such as creating concrete plans for the future based on an accurate understanding of culture survey results; assessing current leadership and “people” need; understanding of how engaging and leveraging human capital can be attained.

4. Repeat

Measuring progress and obtaining feedback for continued improvement based on a clear set of business performance and organisational culture metrics is important for sustained culture improvement and change.

Schneider, B., Ehrhart, M. G., & Macey, W. H. (2013). Organizational climate and culture. Annual review of psychology64, 361-388.

Denison Culture (2013). What are you really measuring with a culture survey? Denison research notes, 8, 1.

On the Receiving End of 360 Degree Feedback

360 degree feedback is a key tool in assisting employees to maximise their potential. It provides feedback from a range of sources (such as Managers, Peers, Direct Reports, and Customers or Clients), offering many advantages over traditional single-source feedback. 360 degree surveys are increasingly used in many workplaces and can be a valuable tool when used appropriately. There is plenty of information available about how to give feedback to people on 360 degree surveys but it is also important to consider tips on how best to receive 360 degree feedback.

As a participant in the 360 process it can be a daunting prospect – your circle of colleagues provide you with feedback on your strengths and development needs. This information is collated in a report full of graphs, tables, and comments. To make the process worthwhile and hold value, it is important that the person leading the process and feedback is committed to the process. It is also important that the person receiving the feedback is committed and willing. Some points to consider when receiving 360 degree feedback:

Have an open-mind – before receiving feedback on your 360 degree survey, think about your current attitude towards it, are you open to receiving feedback? Try to prepare by starting with a willing and objective attitude.

Absorb the information – give yourself time to take in the information. Understand and process the feedback. Do not jump on particular points or feel the need to get into the next step straight away. Take the feedback home and think over it for a few days.

Acknowledge the results – celebrate the positives while also acknowledging the negatives, reflecting on these. You’re allowed to feel proud or upset or taken aback or even surprised. Consider the feedback with other information you have received, have you had similar feedback before?

What have you learned – consider the benefits of completing the 360 degree process. Do you better understand how your own behaviour is interpreted by others? Are your perceived strengths and development areas consistent with what others have said?

Set goals – you now have the information to identify and focus your professional development and learning opportunities. You may want to prioritise some goals or address any issues that may have been raised.

Other options – consider sharing the information you received or goals that you have set with those who provided feedback. It can be hard for colleagues to provide information and acknowledging their contribution to your development may be helpful in their understanding of how the information is used.

Next steps – set a date in the diary for when your next 360 degree will be. Follow up your development goal process in this next one and consider what measures you have taken to improve on both your strengths and development needs.

These points all seem relatively straight forward but when immersed in a document of feedback it can be hard to remember to take a step back and a deep breath. The key point is to have an open mind, take your time, reflect, and then look forward.

Death and Injury in the Workplace: Why Doesn’t New Zealand Stack Up?

When you wake up in the morning the last thing you expect is to be seriously harmed or killed while going about your job. While you are enjoying your Marmite on toast before heading towards an unknown day the sad fact is that our Vegemite eating counterparts in Australia are less inclined to be harmed in the workplace than you are. The workplace injury rate in New Zealand is about twice that of Australia, which is very sobering!

Rob Jager who chairs the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety has been set the job of discovering the reasons behind why our death and injury rates are so much higher compared to Australia. He suggests a multitude of reasons for why this may be including changing workplace practices and environments, regulatory ‘fitness’ and our own culture. While there are provisions in place to promote health and safety in New Zealand, there are still accidents occurring and there is more that needs to be done to reduce the huge discrepancy when compared with other countries. The reasons for why injuries and deaths occur in the workplace are numerous and multi-faceted. According to claims made to ACC for work-related injury in 2009, males are more likely to be injured or killed at work than females; older workers are more vulnerable than other age groups; and self-employed workers are more likely to be injured at work than workers in employment relationships.

Anecdotal evidence put forward suggests that there may be sub-groups of the population who are disproportionately at risk of an injury. These are people such as employees who are new to a position, or those engaged in temporary, causal or seasonal work. It is much easier to hire temporary staff rather than committing to a permanent employee. Bringing someone in as and when needed is seen as a cost-effective way of meeting business demands. The risk however is that temporary employees are often not screened as rigorously as permanent employees and they can be expected to start performing well immediately, with little investment in their induction. Contractors are another example of this; they may not go through health and safety induction programmes as would new permanent employees. Changes to standard working arrangements have also been seen as problematic. More people are working part-time, holding multiple jobs and engaging in irregular patters such as working from home. As a result the need to manage risk across a variety of different settings is becoming more complex. Due to the diverse nature of New Zealand organisations, the development of a framework for health and safety that is adaptable and meets the needs of all areas of a business is paramount.

Some points to consider:

What does your organisation do to mitigate risk in the changing face of the workplace?

How does this accident record reflect on New Zealand companies as employers of choice?

To gather as much information from workers, employers and interested parties Rob Jager is asking for submissions to be made on how the country can reduce workplace injuries. Anyone seeking to make a submission to the can do so online at Submissions close Friday November 16th 2012.

Enclothed Cognition

Have you ever felt stuck for what to wear to an important meeting or maybe a job interview? Perhaps worried about making the right impression? While wearing appropriate clothes to important occasions can give a good impression, it can also make you feel more confident. A study conducted by Researchers at the Kellogg School of Management (Northwestern University, Chicago) looked at how what you wear can influence how you perform; they found that individuals who were asked to wear a lab coat performed better on attention-related tasks compared to those wearing their normal clothes. Interestingly, it was also found that those who did wear lab coats but were told they were artists coats performed similarly to those who wore their own clothes. Now I wouldn’t suggest rushing out to purchase a lab coat (how do you know it’s not an artist’s one anyway?), however it may be worth considering, not just how others may perceive you, but also how the clothes you wear make you feel. This research suggests that it’s not just what people are wearing, but the symbolic meaning of the outfit that matters.   For example, when wearing a ‘power’ suit, not only are you likely to be perceived as professional, but you may feel differently compared to if you wore tidy casual clothes. When you feel you look your best, you carry yourself with more confidence and often find it easier to focus rather than worrying about how you look.

Because of the changing face of workplaces and the way in which business is conducted, many organisations are opting for a more casual approach, where business suits aren’t necessary. Hierarchical structures in organisations are flattening out and more emphasis is being placed on work out-put rather than who is managing who. Different organisations with differing cultures report contempt for both casual dress in the workplace and corporate dress. Employees have claimed that wearing a suit is so uncomfortable it is actually counterproductive in the workplace. Benefits of wearing more comfortable clothes include things such as higher morale, less money spent on clothing and more communication amongst staff as barriers between managers and employees are reduced. For those who work from home, getting out of one’s pyjamas is considered to be enough to feel professional or in a ‘work zone’. However, business leaders have cited less than desirable outcomes of having causal Friday every day. These include outcomes such as employees being less effective, less productive, and tardier.  Not to mention that the organisation can be perceived as less professional by important stakeholders.

What does your organisation, or your employees prefer? Do you feel that if you wear a suit to an important meeting will you perform better than if you don’t? If you wear a suit everyday will it have the same effect?

Adam, H., & Galinsky, A. D. (2012). Enclothed Cognition. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 48, 918-925.