Shaping the workplace_Johann Cardiff_The Sunday Business Post

Johann Cardiff, Singlepoint’s Head of Consulting spoke to Sunday Business Post Connected this month.

Read the interview here:

No longer just a place to have a desk and computer, the modern workplace now needs to have the culture, processes and technology to cope with new demands, writes Quinton O’Reilly.

For the average company, the workplace has evolved to become something greater than just a place with a desk and PC. The facilities, technology, leadership and work culture all play a significant role in shaping just how good a workplace is and that ties in with the hunt for talent becoming more intense than ever. A good place to start with the transformation of the workplace would be in the tools and services used. The most obvious of which is the cloud, which has transformed industries and opened up the workplace for many organisations. Many of the advancements in technology will be making sure that the speeds and infrastructure required for this will keep up with the ever-growing services that take advantage of it.

Leading by example
While having the technology and infrastructure in place is crucial, the culture side of things is just as important, if not more. It’s not enough to say that you are an open and warm workplace if you don’t embody it in any way and leadership should be leading by example in this, said Johann Cardiff, head of consulting at Singlepoint. “The culture needs to be authentic,” she said. “Whatever the culture statements are, they have to resonate with people and they absolutely have to be led by leadership. “The worst-case scenario is where you have a culture that makes a series of statements, yet your leadership demonstrates completely different behaviours. So leadership is important for a successful culture. “One of the big things is people need to be able to see how that culture works for them and how they can embody it.

People make statements like ‘we’ve a very open and honest culture’, and people need to be comfortable with that one to know that means they can have an open and honest conversation with their manager without any fear of anything coming back to them. “The different culture facets need to be put together with a lot of thought and then a key to success is they resonate with people, they feel authentic and they say, ‘yes, this reflects my values, company values and I can buy into it and behave appropriately’.”

The main takeaway from this is if you talk the talk, you have to walk the walk. It’s not enough expecting others to embody it while stating yourself to be the exception, something Cardiff keeps an eye out for when working with clients.“One of the statements that make my ears prick up is ‘this is how we really do things around here’ because that’s the culture, how we really do things around here is the culture,” she said. “[That means the culture statement] has lost its authenticity, its realness, and that one is always one that I’m listening for, those kind of statements where we go ‘that’s the process, but we really do it this way’.”

Even then, the change from one mindset to another can be a tough one to embrace. If workers or managers are used to working in a particular way, then time must be allowed for them to complete the shift to the new culture mindset. As Cardiff says, culture is how we behave and our behaviour is on display every minute of every day, and it’s the reason why its success keeps coming back to leadership. If you don’t have those role models to look up to, it’s very easy to lapse back into old, bad habits. “One of the biggest challenges and one of the phrases I use a lot is ‘you’ve got to give trust before it’s earned in some cases’,” she said. “That can be a terrifying thing for some people because if they’re coming in from a different company, they’re bringing their own culture with them into the new company.

“If it’s very different to what I’m used to and I’m all of a sudden in this collaborative environment, I need to let my team run with this, that can be a scary proposition for someone who’s used to command and control. “That’s when leadership becomes really important to these people and helps them work through it and see the benefit of it. It keeps coming back to leadership, it doesn’t all sit with leadership, but they definitely have to walk the walk.”

Culture shift

Filing under the heading of ‘easier said than done’ is creating a positive culture that everyone — employees, managers and C-suite executives — want to be a part of. Technology can play a role in the changing of a culture, yet when that happens so, too, must the way the business operates.

According to Johann Cardiff, head of consulting at Singlepoint, once you begin to speed up these processes, people will begin to operate differently, and that may mean dynamics that didn’t previously exist. “One of the things that I see from a digital transformation perspective that’s challenging is teams that would traditionally never work together, like marketing and technology, would now work closely on the same team,” she said. “It’s a mindset and culture shift for two very different disciplines within the business to come together and work together. “The other side of that is if you’re trying to pivot your business from a traditional legacy mainframe type business into a more future-focused, digital company, trying to shift your culture from it taking two years to deliver a project to delivering something different every month, that’s a big culture shift.”

Cardiff said that one of the biggest challenges associated with this comes back to the values of the company. It’s important to have a clear mission and vision for what you want to do as part of that transformation, and she stressed that it must be about the people within the organisation, not the technology. “From that, you have to build your culture, your culture has to stand on your values,” she said. “If your values don’t mean anything, your culture will fail, so there’s a very close connection to that. “Then there’s a piece of making it real for people so you need things like culture champions throughout your organisation whose role is to make sure your culture is real, make sure it’s actually happening.”

Quinton O’Reilly

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