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Corporate Culture – It’s Not Always How You Think


I was talking to Matt, a gym buddy of mine earlier on, a former soldier who works as an on-site welder in the construction industry.

We usually just talk about workout routines, other sporting interests and the like. He knows I work for myself and today wanted to know a bit more.

So I explained about how I research at the university into things like motivation and co-operation and higher productivity and job satisfaction and then try to put the lessons into practice in all kinds of organisations and businesses.

He explained how bullying (not that anyone is ever going to bully him!) has decreased in the building industry in recent years and how everything is run on a much more professional basis. That starts with Health & Safety but runs right through to the regular collection of written dispute reports, so that the overseers can nip disputes in the bud and also pick up on bullying earlier.

Last night I was talking to another friend, Ann, who had several tales of woe to tell from the big urban council where she is a middle manager. I've heard numerous other stories like this from other councils.

The trend is that with budget cutbacks, a generally rather patchy leadership level is misunderstanding the essence of performance management and is lapsing into wholesale bullying. The top managers kick down, the middle managers kick down in turn - and the whole organisation rapidly becomes fearful. Performance drops and the cycle of unthinking abuse deepens.

- And this is within public sector organisations which would hold themselves to well-trained, committed to superior practice and which hold various accreditations.

I all goes to show time and again that corporate culture does not live in training manuals, nor in the assertions of leaders. It only lives in sustained actions designed self-consciously to marry superior performance with superior satisfaction.

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