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Weekly HR Round Up 13/3/17

Culture Eating Strategy And All Else

It’s an old quote from Peter Drucker and yet the impact of culture continues to be underestimated and spoken of almost in equal measures. This week I found an interesting article in Aberdeen HCM Essentials

Having worked on a number of culture change initiatives myself it’s always interesting to read the views of others.

This article covers a point often missed in culture (and other project work) – know and understand the baseline. It’s important to know what culture you currently have before you begin to define or change it.

And how to do that? Well clearly this article (as many are) is written around a particular book or theory. My own work as in association with Walking the Talk and Carolyn Taylor and her excellent book called Walking the Talk.

It’s a very good very practical book and the key principles are relevant
1. Know what culture you have by understanding the key behaviours that are rewarded (or not discouraged), key systems that reinforce or support behaviours, and the symbols that have most meaning.
Think of the company where the senior managers have car spaces closest to the office yet say that “we are all equal”. What will have more meaning to staff – the words or getting drenched on the way in walking past a row of empty executive car spaces?

2. To be effective a culture doesn’t have to be adopted by everyone – just the influential few, or the “tipping point”
When assessing or reviewing your culture, understand that every company has key role models whom others follow and copy. It is what these people are doing that is most important and influential.

3. Humans are biologically and sociologically tribal or group creatures. It’s important to understand the nature of the group and group behaviours before looking to embed or change anything.

Culture may not be tangible in itself, but you can certainly observe it’s impact. When things are quiet do your team sit back and wait or do they get proactive? When morale is low, do people do the minimum or work to change and lift the mood?
Let me know any observations and things you notice.

Policy Falling Behind Community Norms

In many cases HR policy has needed to change over the years to adapt to community norms and standards.

I can recall working in the late 1980s when a policy stated that men could not have long hair in the office. I worked with women who had been required to resign when they fell pregnant.
Clearly these policies needed to change as the community standards changed.

The same can be said for sexual harassment and bullying policies – especially as they relate to “hazing” or initiation activities. Things that were acceptable 30 years ago are (thankfully) no longer acceptable in a reasonable community.

And then lets look at things that used to be unacceptable and which are now acceptable. Men with long hair. Women with short hair. Women wearing trousers!
Multiple piercings. Facial piercings. Tattoos.

And this is why the next article from SmartCompany caught my attention

As tattoos become more mainstream, there are more TV shows about tattoos and tattoo artists and the stigma about ink reduces, isn’t it time to consider changes to workplace policy such as dress code?

Personally I don’t have any tattoos and whilst not a fan in general I can appreciate the beautiful artwork and talent of certain artists.
Trust me I have seen some truly magnificent tattoos as well as some terrible work. Hmm, perhaps the word “art” and “human canvas” are appropriate reminders that tattoos are very much like art.

The SmartCompany article asks some good questions about dress code policy and tattoos.
Let me add my usual 3 points of observation

1. Any policy needs to reflect law and your company situation. In Victoria physical appearance is a “protected attribute” under the Anti Discrimination legislation, hence any decision to not hire or to dismiss a person for having tatooss would be discrimination.

Company situation relates to what industry you are in and what client base you have.

2.Keep it in context. Unfortunately certain factors about an employee only become a problem when they are part of a bigger story.
Is there a concern genuinely over a tattoo, or is there another factor (often performance or attendance related) that underpins the top line issue. It may not be the tattoo so don’t make it about the tattoo if it’s about aspects of performance and behaviour at work.

3. The old rule of thumb used to be the question of whether an employee was in a customer facing role, and if so then the dress code and appearance needs to be in keeping with the customer norms.
This is a tricky one as customer bases move and shift.
It’s also important to remember that contribution and performance is about so much more than physical appearance. Let’s keep focused on the ability of an individual to fulfill the inherent requirements of their role.

Sydney Mardi Gras Is Over And Here’s A Tip

The final article this week comes from HC online and is all about supporting LGBTIQ employees

Let’s make it a bigger issue shall we?

In what universe is someone’s sexual activity relevant to their work?
Unless it’s that New Zealand couple seen “loving” each other on a desk at work after hours by patrons of the pub across the road.

Seriously, an individual’s sex life is not relevant to their work performance and it’s about time we all realised this.
The only time personal behaviour becomes relevant is when it has an adverse affect on work or other employees. So if someone went to Mardi Gras and was then late to their Sunday morning shift then it’s an issue – because they were late!

The best advice in this article is “Stop asking intrusive questions”
I agree.
1. Only ask questions at interview that relate to the job.
No “How will you cope as a single mum?” and only to the woman
Yes “This job involves a lot of travel, are you confident that you can manage this and your personal life? to all candidates

2. Remember that you are dealing with another human being.
If someone at your workplace is undergoing gender transition then they are probably having a tough enough time inside their own head without getting pressure from outside as well.
Be compassionate.
Have an EAP in place or someone who you can refer to for counselling and support for employees who need it. Your employee who is the victim of domestic violence will need that support too, especially when it is a man being beaten.

3. Observe your culture and how the team operates. A strong culture and caring team members will step up and be professional and appropriate.