Growing a flourishing culture
“When a flower doesn’t bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower.”
This quote from Alexander Den Heijer resonates with us here at Pecan Partnership. Several of us are keen gardeners and it’s a great metaphor for how team and organisational cultures can nudge collective performance forwards.
Indeed, the principle runs through our culture reviews, helping clients to create cultures in which people love to work and customers love to do business. Just as a good gardener will consider soil, light, water and climate, leaders can achieve the best results by considering and adjusting the environment in which their people work.
In practice, this might be about creating opportunities for colleagues to connect with each other socially, to increase their sense of belonging and improve collaboration. It might be intentionally considering and adapting the organisation’s approach to hybrid working, to help people maximise the benefits of both in-person and remote work. Or it might be adjusting the level of managerial support that a team-member receives, or a team leader allocating tasks based on individuals’ strengths.
This is an inherently inclusive approach that builds trust and engagement. Indeed, in our Cracking Culture Change podcast, Pecan Director Andy Loveless recently interviewed Tom Cliffe, Founder of TRACK CIC, which supports neurodiverse people to access employment through training, support services and other opportunities. In this conversation, Tom describes the small adjustments companies can make to create more inclusive environments for neurodiverse people. For example, removing clocks that tick loudly, or allowing people to wear coloured-lens glasses to aid concentration. These are great illustrations of small changes that can have a huge impact for neurodiverse individuals. And they’re likely to benefit neurotypical people as well.
Spring is in the air
So, with Spring well on the way here in the UK, how might you get your team or organisational culture ready to bloom?
- Design your garden: What would you like your organisational culture to look like? What are the values that drive your organisation, and why? What are the top-priority cultural shifts you need to make?
- Sow the seeds: What are the behaviours that best demonstrate those values and cultural shifts? How can you bury these into every aspect of day-to-day working – decision-making, rituals, working practices and the way leaders lead? And how will you recognise and celebrate those target behaviours when they’re displayed?
- Provide water, light and plant food: How are you supporting teams to progress their own culture improvements, in line with your overall cultural vision? How might local culture ‘champions’ be supported, e.g., through training or coaching?
- Watch out for weeds: Which processes or behaviours are draining your people of energy? Are there unwritten rules about ‘the way we do things around here’ which are choking innovation or productivity?
- Support the helpful bugs: Who are your chief-pollinators, making connections across the organisation and helping to break down silos? How can they be supported to champion the collaborative behaviours you’d like everyone to display?
- Encourage self-propagating plants: How can you create a cultural movement, that’s co-created by your people rather than run from the top? How can you inspire and empower people to use their agency to create positive cultural change?
Right plant, right place
A final word: most gardeners also follow the principle of “right plant, right place”. There may be little point in encouraging a very delicate, thirsty plant to grow in desert-like surroundings. Similarly, sometimes an individual just isn’t a good match for an organisation, and it’s not possible to make the adjustments required to help them flourish in that environment. They might need to be supported to move to a different role within – or outside – the organisation. But we recommend considering how the environment could be adapted before making that decision, as any adjustments made may well benefit other colleagues as well.
If you like the idea of a thriving, colourful garden (organisationally speaking) but don’t feel confident about making it happen, get in touch. We’d love to tell you more about our ‘Culture Change that Works’ approach, and how it cultivates great outcomes for organisations like yours.