5 Ingredients to create a great culture in your workplace

5 Ingredients to create a great culture in your workplace

Your people are a reflection of your business and you; they can help shape and mould the way you operate; they can do this from service delivery, productivity, generating ideas to driving sales, they really do represent you in every way.


We hear so much about “culture”, what you should and should not do, it can be difficult knowing at times where to start and what it even means.
Here goes then – “Organisational Culture” from one definition can be summed up as: the way that things are done in an organisation, unwritten rules that influence individuals, group behaviours and attitudes.

This may appear a simplistic approach and everyone has their own views, perceptions and methods of approach, it is also true that every organisation is different, in size, operating processes, values, traditions and leadership styles. There are so many theories, books and styles that can be adopted to assist in the process and each is unique, what I perhaps would recommend before trying is research to find your preferred method.

Creating a great culture in any team should be personalised but with key ingredients used as a standard approach, I view it a little like baking a cake; you need the basic ingredients to make it rise, then you can add as many hundreds and thousands as you want. If you don’t get that right, you will need to start all over again.

I have added below 5 key ingredients, they are very simple and will provide you with the basics.


1. It is all about your people – they are the heartbeat of your business

Learning the lessons in your business about what make your people “tick” will create your winning culture, understanding people is always tricky, some you will think you know (but really wont), some you will know and this will be genuine and some you will never know; when all said and done we are all humans and with that in mind your people need to have the basics in place to become your winners, treat them in the right way and you will see:

• Respect will be reciprocated
• Negatives turned into positive
• Improvements in attitudes and behaviours
• Reduction in conflict
• Increased productivity
• Reduction attrition rate

At your planning stage it is imperative to consider your people, who will play what part, why, when and how; by doing this you will be laying the foundations for your teams. You may want to consider as part of this process:

• Reviews and PDP’s
• Job Descriptions
• Salary and bonus
• Succession planning
• Recruitment Planning
• Attrition
• Buddy roles
• Teams (including Leadership)

Your people are the key ingredient to be added into your cake, without them it simply will not work.

2. Creating a winning team with leading role

You are now on your journey and most people enjoy being part of a team, it makes sense then to go and embrace this, foster the positive relationships within the group, you need to achieve this by setting your purpose, vision and principles with them, you need to be there in a leading role.
This all sounds easy right now, communicate effectively in varied formats and often, “a one trick pony approach”, will not work. Here are a few you can try:

• Team meetings
• Huddles/shout outs/toolbox talks
• Posters
• Newsletters
• Comms boards
• Writing on your wall
• Screen savers
• Daily emails
• Email internal signatures

You should include others in the communication process and that is a great idea but leading from the front is what is needed. Whatever you do, it needs to be kept alive, if the oven goes out your cake will flop, and you will need to start all over again.

3. Making the changes can make all the difference

Many people are averse to change, it can be difficult for some people to understand and accept, people react in very different ways and you need to be ready for the fallout from your team, making provisions for additional training for your management team in this area can be hugely beneficial or the help of a professional, this is an area that can be underestimated.
Just some common factors to consider here which are real for everyone can be:

• Fear of the unknown
• Lack of understanding
• Feelings of loss
• Friendship loss/gains
• Job insecurity
• Fear of training
• Fear of technology
• Insufficient communication
• Neglect
• Elation
• Excitement

Before all of this I would strongly suggest you address and review your processes, this will help you to set the standards and expectations of your people and also the behaviours and attitudes that are acceptable. When setting these do consider new areas you may wish to implement into your business, these may be:

• New systems
• New values/goals
• New mission statement
• New HR Handbook
• New H&S manuals
• New areas of compliance controls
• New Learning and Development (CPD)
• New Job Descriptions – Accountabilities

At this stage you need to ensure the ingredients are added in the correct order, in the precise measurements and at the right times.

4. Letting conflict happen within your team can be positive

Just the word “conflict” is daunting for some, when managed effectively it can actually have positive results, during any organisational culture change conflict is inevitable. The outcome is purely dependent on how it dealt with, the key here is to ensure that you follow some basic rules:

• Prepare ahead
• Remain impartial
• Act as the mediator
• Work to reach a common goal
• And above all listen

It may be at this time that one party is culpable, depending on the circumstance, if handled in the right way this could be a catalyst for change for them, you need to consider your actions prior to reaching your conclusions; mistakes can happen perhaps?, is a more supportive approach required this can be a real game changer for the individual involved.

On a separate note I would always advise to quash any negativity within the team quickly, you may need to use varying approaches and it is dependent on the size and dynamics of the team, you could perhaps try:

• Team Briefs to dispel rumours
• Re-enforce process and policy
• Focusing on key players to actively involve them on projects
• Regular reviews
• One-one meetings where appropriate

You may at times need to take a firmer approach where it is a particular change management issue, at this time you would rely on process to assist.

A burnt cake when temperatures are too hot at this stage would be a real shame, if kept at the right temperature you could have the best cake ever.

5. It really is not about you – make yourself dispensable

When we think about the culture of a business, we think of the you the leader, if you do the same then flip that on its head just like I have in this blog; you are last part of the cake baking process. You do make all the difference but you need to make your people the ones that make up your culture within your business, remember the cake and how to make it, we have the people, that then makes up a team, we then have change and how that can have an effect, you can review processes to assist you here and finally you will potentially have some resistance and in turn this will cause conflict.

All done, not quite you need to keep the oven lit and the cake rising, your team need you this is super important.

Sounds easy, here are some pointers for you, here goes:

• Set out the standards and be the hero of your brand
• Lead by example
• Over communicate
• Include your people in the decision making
• Don’t just thank your people – let them know what for and why
• Celebrate success within the team – recognise positivity
• Make mistakes – we all do but apologise gracefully
• Mentor your people – but allow others to do the same for you
• Be firm but fair – push your people to achieve their goals
• Listen to your team – adopt and embrace ideas
• Remember your team will emulate you – negativity, fear, opinions, beliefs etc
• Make your aim to become dispensable – in essence your team should be able to make the biggest and best cake ever without you.

Once done – your cake will be ready, remove and add as many hundreds and thousands as you like.

Fran Crossland
4 December 2019

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