Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Correlation between Positive Workplace Culture and Policy

Positive, empowered teams self-manage themselves.

Organizations large or small are transforming from industrial silos to more holistic digital business, but a positive workplace culture is not less important, but more critical, because culture as a collective mind and habit, is the competency to decide business’s long-term success. But what’s the correlation between positive workplace and policy, could culture be the very reason for the proliferation of policies or, can a positive workplace culture reduce the number of policies required to manage employees?

Positive workforce takes employees to trust. Here is the scenario that happens in many organizations. Something happens, let’s penalize those involved then draft a procedure to prevent it happening again and place this on a website with about two hundred other procedures that they expect their employees to inwardly digest and adhere too. the level of bureaucracy is dreadful, policies are used to achieve goals, but rarely does this approach work. They miss the point of educating workers and trusting them to use the skills they have been employed for, it (an over-reliance on policies) moves responsibility from an organization and serves quite often as no more than a backside covering exercise for the companies involved and shifts blame to the workers involved. A leader gives and receives trust. Teams don't function without trust. From the battlefield to shop floor to board room, teams succeed or fail based on their level of trust.

The ground rules and compliance need to be outlined clearly. Some policies beget more and more detail policy as the game of finding loopholes begins by those who may feel unnecessarily pestered by over regulation. A lack of accountability for outcomes stems from micro-management. "Figured it would not work out as well as expected but at least, I followed the rules." Sure you need the basics such as legal compliance and ground rules outlined clearly, but there has been a bureaucratic trend from executives who are not prepared to single out and deal with negative issues directly, with the 10% who need it. They take the blanket option of developing more rules for the 90% who do not, which erodes the positive culture, engagement, and performance that grows from mutual trust and respect. Management overtakes leadership!

To maintain the positive environment, a set of guiding principles can be written on a page. It will be supported by the bulk of employees in defining the boundaries they also wish to maintain. Experience between positive performing cultures and mediocre or negative cultures is that they evolve from the platform of trust and respect that cascades from the top. Gradually, the business attracts or loses certain people on that basis and one ends up getting what they wish for.  Good leaders develop an insight with determining those who work better under the detailed guidance and those who work better given broader goals and support. the preference for micro-management does not work in most of the time as it ends up being hard work and less productive. Figuring out a technique that understands human nature and guides collective momentum certainly pays off in the long run.

The healthy workplace culture decreases the need for restrictive policies. Smarter hiring practices and attendance to daily and measurable healthy workplace culture dramatically decreases the need for control and excessive or restrictive policies. Granted, policies have to be in place for legal reasons and to convey reasonable expectations. Yet some organizations clearly take micro-managing and maybe, oppression, to extremes. Train and create a healthy framework for responding to conflict, so it is helpful, not destructive. Hire right, value your people in words and treatment, consistently, empower them by helping them develop skills they desire within the context of the work with training, show them how they are part of the vision and reward them when you grow.

Setting principle guidelines, grounding rules and policies is important to shape the positive culture, however, the high performing culture is built through trust and being agile (self-management, interactive communication and continuous improvement), the overly restrictive policies will lead to micromanagement or too much controlling which leads to business bureaucracy, inefficiency and stifling innovation. Ultimately the positive culture should lead employees to the two way of trust, the path of self-management and up way of overall business maturity.       


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