In past articles we looked at various aspects of culture such as the 4 aspects to nurturing a positive culture and how culture can make or break performance. In considering the creation, management and maintenance of a positive culture, human resources plays a critical role.
We see 7 key areas where HR should be a leader, in order to strategically manage the culture within an organisation.
1. Align values and behaviour with the Strategic Focus
As caretakers of culture, HR need to ensure that the values promoted by the business are aligned with the strategic focus. So if the strategy is customer focus then the values of Integrity, Respect and Openness may be key. HR needs to ensure that these values are alive in the organisation not only with customers but also in how employees are treated by the organisation and in how employees treat each other.
An important tool to manage culture is communication. HR needs to aim for a communication culture which is transparent and clear. It is important that on one hand the organisation communicates regularly with employees and is honest and transparent with them. On the other hand it is healthy that employees find a channel through which they express their ideas, frustrations and concerns. In both cases HR should stay away from being part of the gossip channels and the aim of HR should be to weaken the strength of such channels.
The importance of recruitment for managing culture is often overlooked. Recruitment is a powerful tool to either preserve/conserve a culture or to change it. In most organisations, the role of HR is to ensure that the new recruits are a cultural fit. This is also important to avoid unnecessary staff turnover. However, recruitment can be an opportunity to introduce employees with differing characteristics and use these as key influencers as part of a culture change.
4. Recognise, encourage and reward talent
Talent management is one of the crucial areas in the life cycle of an organisation. Here, HR needs to ensure that the most genuine, talented and hard working employees are rewarded. Financial rewards are important especially when employee retention is high priority especially in situations where demand for talent is higher than supply. However, reward and recognition can be enhanced by also focusing on career progression and training and development, as well as other incentives.
5. Performance Management Programs
If managed in the right way, performance management programs can be important tools to provide feedback to employees and to encourage and promote the desired behaviours in your organisation.
In order to manage culture at the strategic level, it is critical that HR introduces metrics that help to measure culture. These take different forms and can be done through internally developed assessment tools, other established tools measuring specific areas such as employee engagement and others that give customer focus indicators.
The 7th area is actually a point of reflection…
7. HR is an important Role Model with an organisation
HR cannot influence culture within an organisation positively, if it does not lead by example. Very often, HR managers within an organisation, work in between the lines of an organisation, to tackle management/employee issues and help solve other organisational issues. Navigating these lines can be a very lonely place and, as a consequece, it is healthy to build around you a network that provides honest feedback on your work.
Should you have any feedback on these 7 points or should you wish to discuss how we can help you and your HR drive culture within your organisation, please contact us.