A few weeks back I attended the annual online Human Synergistics Conference. It’s always a great event – free for anyone to attend – not just accredited practitioners.
What I loved about this year’s conference was the great way the presenters – organisational leaders – shared the really effective, simple ways they put culture on the agenda and keep it alive throughout the year – not just at the annual engagement or culture survey moment.
Below I share my take outs from what was a great line up of speakers – if you want to watch their entire presentations at the Human Synergistics Conference – I have provided links below.
Amanda Bollans from NOVA Entertainment
Amanda Bollans from NOVA Entertainment implemented “Project Blue” – their culture transformation program towards demonstrating more “blue” constructive styles to drive both engagement and profitability.
Amanda’s top tips to driving culture transformation are:
About culture transformation; Amanda says “It’s hard work, but it’s good work”.
Sarah McCann-Bartlett – Australian HR Institute
Sarah talked about how culture transformation at the Australian HR Institute (AHRI) is being achieved through leadership assessment, culture assessment, and continual conversations about behaviours at work. She bravely shared her own leadership 360-results – normalising it as a habit of great leaders.
Sarah’s top tips are:
Sarah’s watch out for P&C professionals – work closely with CFO’s to provide well-informed business cases for people programs. “As we feel pressures of inflation and a reduction in demand – don’t put a line through people programs because people are at the centre of our economic recovery”.
Dan Hunter – CEO Business NSW
Dan was hired to lead the business because of his proven ability to lead culture transformation. He held up an image of the Culture Circumplex from his previous business – an image that demonstrated a largely “blue” constructive culture. Dan said; “Boards are interested in this. The Board hired me because of my ability to change culture”.
Dan Hunter shared his 9-step roadmap for culture transformation, pictured below.
Dan’s top tips for culture transformation are
Dan shared a warning to CEO’s who are on the fence about working on themselves. “There are half a million open jobs in Australia right now. You can’t get away with not working on yourself as a CEO. People will not stick around to work with a CEO who doesn’t learn how to motivate, engage, and inspire their people.”
Shane Ellison – CEO of Auckland Transport
Auckland Transport is a behemoth by any measure. Achieving culture change in an organisation like this is no easy task.
Shane Ellison embarked upon a multi-year program to move the needle on culture though measurement using Human Synergistics tools (OEI & OCI) by a focus on values, purpose, diversity and inclusion, and wellbeing.
His top tips were:
Shane was grateful for the work they had put into culture prior to COVID19. “In times of crisis – your culture takes over. We had done the hard yards – our culture had become more empathetic, and we were braver about experimenting”.
What does it take to drive culture transformation?
We all know that culture is the sum of many, many interpersonal interactions experienced over time that send signals about what’s expected “around here”.
Some of those signals are positive. Some of them are negative.
On balance – we want people to receive more messages to speak up, be yourself, share ideas and take on challenging tasks; than messages to shut-up, keep your head down, get on with the work, don’t mess up, and do whatever it takes to get a result.
The balance of messages ultimately determines how adaptable, flexible and responsive our teams are. Positive behaviours build adaptive cultures – where people are resilient and able to flex to meet constantly changing market conditions. The pace of change is accelerating – the only true way you can prepare for the future is to build an adaptive, resilient culture.
As Shane Ellis noted: “It’s not possible to expect people to execute strategy and realise full potential in a defensive culture. It just won’t happen on a sustainable basis”.
Culture transformation is a process of moving the needle on the balance of interactions – from predominantly negative to predominantly positive.
The presenters of this year’s Human Synergistics conference have astutely demonstrated that culture transformation takes patience, commitment, and strong leadership.