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The importance of organisational culture


Are you happy with your organisation's culture? Janice Haddon thinks it's worth asking yourself some difficult questions.

We spend such a huge amount of time in work - how we feel about it can either make or break us. Our stress levels are up, they are up so much that stress is one of the biggest causes for sickness absence and our mental wellbeing is now at the peak of concern.

So how do we strike the balance and get it right? How do we thrive in the workplace and not just survive? And more to the point – how can we take control of it for ourselves and get it right?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I truly happy and loving what I do?

  • Am I personally developing and learning new things?

  • Am I treated with respect and highly regarded by my manager and colleagues?

  • Am I adding value and feeling full of purpose?

  • Do I jump out of bed in the morning looking forward to the day?

If you have answered 'no' to some or even all of them then now is the time to do something about it.

The right culture?

We can only be truly happy in work if the culture that we find ourselves in fits with our personal values. If we have a value of respect, for example, and end up working in an organisation where rudeness and bullying are accepted – we are not going to be happy. Even if that rudeness and bullying isn’t directed at us, it will not be an environment in which we flourish. Working in an environment that goes against our personal values will cause internal conflict and ultimately stress.

So how do you know if the culture fits with your values? First you need to start with understanding what your values are. Make a list of your top six and prioritise them. It isn’t something that we think about often but it is worth taking the time.

Personal values are the standards that we set ourselves and provide the basis of our responses and behaviours – they are the key to our interactions on a daily basis. A match with an organisation's culture and values is the key for your happiness in the environment you are in. A match and you have the potential to flourish – a mismatch and you have the potential to spiral downwards. And that is not a good place to be.

Dealing with change?

If you answered 'no' to the questions above and your personal values match that of the organisation, then maybe something is changing in your environment. Change impacts us all in many different ways and in all areas of our lives. We all go through a cycle of emotions when change hits us- the speed, timing and how we deal with it varies from person to person.

If the changes fit with how we view ourselves – how we want life to be, then we are more likely to be positive about it. If we haven’t chosen the change and it is something that doesn’t match what we thought our future would be – we are more likely to resist it.

This type of situation can generate feelings of anxiousness or fear – which in turn can trigger the ‘fight or flight’ response – where emotions are raised in a strong enough way to get us up to ‘fight’ for what we want or to ‘flee’ to a place of safety. There is also a third response where we ‘freeze’ and are completely unable to do anything. Decision making goes out of the window.

So with all change it is important to get clarity. To help you get clarity, it is important to write down and understand:

  • what is happening,

  • what the circumstances are,

  • what the impact is on you and

  • what options you have.

Weigh up your options – look at the pros and cons of each one and decide the best course of action to take. Then set yourself some goals. We alone are in control of how we deal with things – take responsibility for yourself – look after your health in terms of physical, nutritional and positive mind. Remember: it is not what happens to us but how we deal with things and how we respond, that defines us.

Successful people have goals. Here is the most effective way of ensuring you achieve yours:

  • Write them down – be specific

  • Break bigger tasks down into manageable chunks

  • Set yourself timescales for achieving things

  • Be realistic – climbing Mount Everest when you don’t have the right shoes just won’t lead to success. (It is important to stretch yourself though).

  • Keep the vision of what you want in clear focus

  • Tell someone. When other people know about it, it can spur you on and add to your motivation

Work hard, over deliver and if you don’t know something – ask. That is how we learn and grow. Are you everything you want to be? If not get your plan together and be everything you are meant to be. And lastly – Smile! It is impossible to feel miserable if you have a smile on your face and people might even wonder what you are up to.

Janice Haddon has over 25 years’ experience in strategic and operational Human Resources and management consultancy. A Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development with a BSc (Hons) in Psychology, an MA in Psychotherapy and an MBA from Henley Management College, Janice is also a Master Practitioner in NLP, a Cognitive Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapy Counsellor and runs a number of businesses including Morgan Redwood

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Janice Haddon


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