How to… Create a positive culture

06 May 2011
How to… Create a positive culture

We all talk about organisational culture - most probably on a daily basis - that wonderful expression that characterises our working environment and the way that it should live and work within our restaurants, bars and hotels, but do we actually live it and what are the best ways to create this culture?

As managers, one of the key questions when interviewing a prospective employee explores whether the candidate is a good "cultural fit." Sure, culture is difficult to define, but you generally know when you have found an employee who appears to fit your culture. They just feel right.

When you are at work it is the culture that surrounds you, it will define to which level you enjoy your work, your relationships and how well you get on with your work, but it will never be anything that you can see, it just happens to be there.

When culture works within its environment it is clear to see and not only by the team that works within the environment. Culture extends into how a team behaves, holds itself, interacts with each other and supports each other, and your guests will then reap the benefit of a culture that has been placed so cleverly within it.

A culture also starts from the top and works its way into the team working on the floor. If a manager shows support, guidance, listens, motivates, is a good decision maker and, most of all, knows their "stuff", it can produce an efficient, effective and rewarding place in which to work. If not, then a team will become disheartened, sloppy, lazy and will look to move on - most probably, and worst of all, to the competition just down the road who have managed to get right.

So how do you measure if culture is successfully working within your environment? Something as simple as the objects chosen to grace a desk tell you a lot about how employees view and participate in your organisation's culture. Your bulletin board content, the company newsletter, the interaction of employees in meetings and the way in which people collaborate speak volumes about your organisational culture.

Five tips for the perfect culture
1 Behavior It's important to communicate with each other on all levels in a polite and calm fashion - remember being aggressive will get you nowhere. Spend time with your team, as a group or as individuals, and listen to what they have to say. Act on your team's comments and revert back accordingly. Get involved in your operation, be seen and assist where needed. And always follow up, on everything!

2 Inspire and motivate Take time out to inspire and motivate your team. As an executive manager, take your heads of department out for dinner and treat them to an occasion where they might learn or see something new. Your heads of department should also spend time with their team, go bowling, join them down the local (for a short while). Tell them of your past stories, how and where you learnt what you know now, let them know why you choose to do something a particular way. Provide your team with a project and let them get their hands dirty and get involved with the business.

3 Values Most companies have a number of values such as integrity and innovation by which they operate and it's important that you live by them.

4 Decision making If a decision is to be made, make it, your team needs direction.

5 Know your stuff Your team will ask you for advice, your thoughts and support. You need to know how your business operates and everything in it.

Mark Tucker, general manager, the Portrait restaurant

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