Steve Simpson's Blog (15)

There are only two root causes of negative corporate cultures

An article from the latest edition of our Cultural Intelligence newsletter...

If you accept our proposition that workplace cultures are simply people's perceptions of 'this is the way we do things around here', then there are only two factors that combine to cause negative cultures. Yes - you read correctly, only two! These are:

  • Inappropriate behaviours, or
  • Misaligned…

Added by Steve Simpson on October 4, 2016 at 15:27 — No Comments

How leader beliefs impact corporate culture

Most of us have seen Values Statements on the walls of organisations. Unless the leaders truly believe in the core messages of these values, they are a waste of space - and could indeed be counterproductive.

For example, let's assume we have a leader who, in their heart of hearts believes you get the best out of people by putting a lot of pressure on them (the leader might not own-up to this belief, but it nonetheless is a core belief).

If the value statements in that…


Added by Steve Simpson on September 23, 2016 at 15:28 — No Comments

Why engagement diminishes, and what you can do about it

An article from our Cultural Intelligence newsletter

If you promised a child a special treat in a week, like a visit to the zoo, or the circus, and the day prior you let the child know the trip wouldn’t be happening, you would predict the child would be extremely disappointed. It’s likely they were excited at the prospect of this special day, only to be let down.

So, for the sake of this…


Added by Steve Simpson on August 24, 2016 at 8:00 — No Comments

The danger of great cultures and great leadership

Because I travel a lot, I do a lot of driving. I’ve driven through the UK, Ireland, the US, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada and elsewhere.

Recently I was driving to the lovely Sunshine Coast in Australia (around a 1.5 hour drive north of Brisbane).

On that trip I noticed traffic signs I’d not been aware of before. They read ‘Audible Traffic Guides Next 60 kms’. These signs refer to a thin strip of white paint along the edge of the highway. The white paint is over a road…


Added by Steve Simpson on August 16, 2016 at 15:38 — No Comments

How to get people passionate about change

An article from our Cultural Intelligence newsletter

It’s strange in many respects that in this era, when there is and has been so much change happening, people are so resistant to organisational change.

So how do you get people passionate about change? The straight answer to this is - you don’t! Not all of them any way.

Let’s face it – we all have different experiences and different DNA and…


Added by Steve Simpson on August 12, 2016 at 8:53 — No Comments

The single biggest trap of employee engagement

An article from our Cultural Intelligence newsletter...

An interesting article by David Zinger tracks the origins and history of employee engagement, made popular by the Gallup organisation in the 1990s. 

Without doubt, the employee engagement movement has stimulated…


Added by Steve Simpson on August 10, 2016 at 6:30 — No Comments

Opinion leaders drive corporate culture

An article from our Cultural Intelligence newsletter...

All of us experience issues with the people with whom we work. How these issues are dealt with becomes critical in framing a workplace culture.

We’ve recently been working with a company that has genuinely transformed its culture. From what used to be a culture where internal phones were left to ring out and where there was internal…


Added by Steve Simpson on August 9, 2016 at 7:30 — No Comments

Top 4 corporate culture mistakes that leaders make

An article from our Cultural Intelligence newsletter...

Over the weekend, I was at a social function when an acquaintance quizzed me on what I did for a living. I shared the fact that we work with leadership teams and their people to help them understand and strategically improve their workplace culture. The response I got after sharing this was not unusual:

'Wow, do we need you at our…


Added by Steve Simpson on August 4, 2016 at 15:37 — No Comments

The ultimate culture-change blocker

Readers of our newsletter will be familiar with our UGRs® (unwritten ground rules) concept that has become a mechanism to help transform workplace cultures.

We define UGRs as people's perceptions of 'this is the way we do things around here'. They drive people's behaviours yet are seldom talked about openly.

As an example, if a prevailing UGR is 'Around here, bosses aren't interested in hearing others'…


Added by Steve Simpson on August 3, 2016 at 8:30 — No Comments

The uprising of cynics

Our work with organisations of all types and sizes gives us exposure to how people feel about their work environment. And often - too often for our liking - people feel desperately unhappy about their workplace. 

Now, apart from the productivity implications of this unhappiness (discretionary effort is likely to be minimal for these people), there are personal costs that come with this. 

One thing we've observed over the years is that if anything, cynicism is on the rise, at…


Added by Steve Simpson on August 2, 2016 at 10:14 — No Comments

Why 'We're open and honest' so often fails...

Many businesses make proclamations about the way they operate. Internal documents often centre on key attributes of the company, that might include reward and recognition of people, a genuine customer focus and openness and honesty among staff and between managers and staff.

External documents for existing and prospective clients often focus on the capability of the company and their commitment to delivering high quality, on-time service.

Yet if we ask staff how things really…


Added by Steve Simpson on August 1, 2016 at 8:58 — No Comments

The Search for Engagement

Have you ever been involved in 'Team Building Days' that involve outdoor activities like abseiling and high ropes? 

In essence, these and a raft of other team activity initiatives, focus on getting people working better together. Leaders who organise these for their people are trying to address a problem of engagement - they're trying to help people gain insights and understandings to help them perform better individually and as a team.…


Added by Steve Simpson on July 28, 2016 at 8:49 — No Comments

People don't resist change wholesale

From the latest edition of our 'Cultural Intelligence' newsletter

One of the most common issues cited by leaders across the world relates to how to manage change, including how to get people 'on board'. This has resulted in a number of memes gaining traction - including those such as 'people resist change', 'people are suffering from change fatigue', and so on.

We think…


Added by Steve Simpson on July 27, 2016 at 9:59 — No Comments

What leadership isn't

From the latest edition of our 'Cultural Intelligence' newsletter

In my mid 20s, I was seconded from my role as a teacher into the head office of the Education Department. During the five years I spent in head office, I was invited to be part of a team that provided leadership training to school…


Added by Steve Simpson on July 25, 2016 at 16:59 — No Comments

Manage culture: manage the non-negotiables

In our workplace culture work with organisations, we attune people to the fact the culture in large part is deduced. People watch what gets noticed, what doesn't get noticed, the difference between what people say and what they do, and so on. These observations count for more than what is written in documentation and what is said publicly.

From these observations, along with what people share privately with one another, people learn about the 'non-negotiables' as well. We refer to…


Added by Steve Simpson on July 25, 2016 at 16:55 — No Comments

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