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Culture… it’s a balancing act?

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In recent months I seem to have been consumed by my thinking around culture; either positively, through my involvement with coaching and National Professional Qualification delivery in leadership programmes, or negatively, through leading investigations or the recent news centred on various public service organisations.

I must confess that as a new Headteacher I gave little thought to the deliberate actions I was taking to create a culture in my school but was rather more consumed by daily operational actions and strategising for school improvement (or survival!).  However, as I gained greater experience, I came to realise the significance of workplace culture and have subsequently become a little obsessed with it, in a good way I hope. Online there are numerous definitions of culture each attributing varying levels of significance but my experience tells me that you should ignore actions taken to deliberately shape culture at your peril.

To me culture is about everyone doing the right thing, even when no one is looking. This is not because you have to do so as a result of some policy or other or you are too fearful not to do it, but because it is the right thing to do and is line with the positive vision and values of your organisation in which you support, feel invested in and want to celebrate.

There are so many actions we take as leaders throughout the course of any single day, many we give little thought or credence to. But goodness me, they are all so important. The smile as you walk in, the visibility you have ‘walking the walk’, the interest you show in people (young and older!) and those important to them, the little bit you give of yourself when you share something funny or a personal experience but most importantly the tenacity with which you challenge and call out those who are not doing the right thing whether someone is looking or not.

It is becoming increasingly important that we recognise the changing societal culture in building our organisational culture. This is not always easy as we may be trying to create a micro-culture within a community, a culture for the future that values everyone and celebrates uniqueness.

In the media we often hear about significant breakdowns in culture or recent issues with high-profile organisations. But often a breakdown of positive culture can be a cumulation of small, some might say minor issues – a wrong word, a derogatory action that goes unchallenged by colleagues and leaders or something which offends a person even without intention.

I heard a quote recently, ‘we are human beings, not human doings’ this resonated with me a great deal as often we are so busy “doing the doing” that we forget to reflect on how the doing, either our own or that of others in our organisation, impacts on the human element which ensures our organisation thrives through the ordinary and the challenging times.

This ever-changing societal culture and the impact it has on an education establishment as an employer and a cultivator of the next generation of parents, employees and citizens is a difficult landscape to navigate. Join us for our next FREE Education Breakfast Briefing to hear from the Rollits team about ‘Balancing Act: Sustaining a positive workplace culture’ through proactively managing risk, avoiding common pitfalls and ensuring that we learn from current knowledge and mistakes of others on Thursday 7 March 2024 @ 08:30

We look forward to seeing you there.

Sarah Young, Young +

This article is for general guidance only. It provides useful information in a concise form. Action should not be taken without obtaining specific legal advice.
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