Communicating culture change

Could comparing worklife to a bank account be the way to effect and communicate culture change in your workplace? Author and organisational culture expert Jane Sparrow believes so…

There’s no magic wand when it comes to creating or communicating culture change in an organisation. When trying to instill a healthy, supportive culture, it’s more about sprinkling small amounts of fairy dust – making sure people do small things right, and do them every day.

That’s the view of organisational culture expert Jane Sparrow. I saw one of her talks recently, when she was speaking to a packed room of the brightest brains in financial services.

Her presentation seemed to resonate with them – and, I have to admit, it worked for me too.

Jane has just written a book called Bank of Me, and in it, she divides people into savers and investors. For a business, the savers are those who do their jobs and are happy to go home at the end of the day and accept their salaries. The investors are the people who really care about how the business performs, and want to make things better.

The more investors you have in your team, the more likely it is to thrive.

Taking the banking analogy a step further, Jane encourages people to consider their ‘human bank account’, and why you sometimes feel overdrawn and at other times feel like you’re in credit.

Staying in the black depends on how you’re faring in five different areas:

  • Physiological – what you eat and drink, your health, how much sleep you get
  • Managing your emotions – we all know that if we’re feeling emotional about something it has an impact on our behaviour
  • Focus – how we deal with those internal and external distractions we all experience
  • Motivation – some tasks we just have to do, some we endure but don’t enjoy, while others we find worthwhile and enriching
  • Personal growth – feeling challenged and stretched every day.

And those elements all work together. For instance, if you’re tired or not getting enough sleep, it’s likely you’ll struggle to control your emotions and lack focus.

Using the ‘human bank account’ to communicate culture change

During the presentation, I was invited to score 30 statements which gave me an indication of whether my human bank account was in the black or the red. I was asked if ‘I feel valued and appreciated’, ‘I experience happiness at work most days’, ‘I stay hydrated’ and ‘I consider the needs of others’.

Woah. A bit deep – but actually quite revealing.

It was an exercise that helped me focus on what affected my behaviour and my performance at work. And, more than that, it’s provided a simple shorthand to use with other members of my team and enabled us to more clearly communicate the sort of culture change we’re all seeking.

Keeping those questions in mind during my work week has been a useful way of remembering to take time for myself, which is improving my mood and boosting my productivity. It’s also meant that I’m more mindful of my colleagues and their ‘bank accounts’.

It turns out creating and communicating culture change might be as simple as getting a glass of water for your workmate or paying them a compliment for a job well done.

As Jane says, there’s no magic to it, just do the small things right, and do them every day.

So, to use Jane’s words, if you’re interested in how you can help encourage your teams to become investors in your business, why not get in touch?