Welcome to the Cultural Intelligence newsletter, by Steve Simpson and Stef du Plessis

The Cultural Intelligence Newsletter

Hi Jane

Welcome to the August 2011 edition of our Cultural Intelligence newsletter!

We've got lots to share in this month's edition - where we look at:

How leader beliefs impact culture
On call 24/7
The latest employee outlook survey
Outsourcing inspiration
Like to join our LinkedIn Group?
The UGRs video
About the authors
That's it for this month!

How Leader Beliefs Impact Culture

Steve has recently worked with a terrific group of people involved in Australia's Apprenticeship and Traineeship system.  At the conference at which Steve spoke, he explored the impact of UGRs (unwritten ground rules) on Apprenticeships. Steve put forward the view that there are UGRs in at least three different contexts which impact on the quality of Apprenticeships across the country - there are UGRs in the apprentice's workplace (for example, workplace bosses might have a view of 'I did it tough in my apprenticeship, and that's the way it needs to be'), there are UGRs in schools (for example, teachers may hold the view that 'apprenticeships are for young people who have no other options') and there are UGRs in families.

This got us thinking about the fact that belief systems drive UGRs.

Most of us have seen Values Statements on the walls of organisations. Unless the leaders truly believe in the core messages of these values, they are a waste of space - and could indeed be counterproductive.

For example, let's assume we have a leader who, in their heart of hearts believes you get the best out of people by putting a lot of pressure on them (the leader might not own-up to this belief, but it nonetheless is a core belief). If the value statements in that organisation include treating people with respect, then there's a lack of alignment that is going to create tension.

It's worth noting that leader beliefs can impact UGRs in more subtle ways than this lack of alignment.

Many leaders work their way through the ranks within an organisation. They begin as 'hands-on' staff, then move to middle management, then to senior management. Some leaders seek to gain promotion not only for the financial benefits, but also to move away from the grind of operational duties. Their belief system is that operational duties are the province of front line staff.

If that's the case, then staff will quickly learn that their leader does not want to get their hands dirty. Of course, this can have dire consequences, as a UGR will emerge such as 'Around here, we're alone when it comes to doing our work'.

We think there is huge value in getting leadership teams to consider the key cultural attributes they need in place to ensure their future success. Once these attributes have been identified, there would be extra value in getting the leaders to think seriously about their core belief system that could potentially impact on these key cultural attributes.

On Call 24/7

A survey of 569 employees in the US conducted by Right Management has found that one third of employees receive emails from their boss on the weekend. These were not broadcast emails, but emails intended for that person and seeking a response.

The results were as follows:

Does your boss send you work-related emails during the weekend and expect you to respond?

Yes, often - 33%
Only from time to time - 30%
Never - 37%

Of course, if one third of employees were receiving emails from their bosses over the weekend, it's fair to presume their bosses were also working over the weekend!

The Latest Employee Outlook Survey

The latest edition of 'Employee Outlook' from UK based CIPD is based on 2013 responses to an on-line survey. Some really interesting findings emerged from the study.

Consistent with previous surveys, but in what is a surprise to us, employee net satisfaction increases with age (we would have predicted the reverse, given our experience where cynicism tends to be on the increase as employees get older!). The results are in the table that follows:

Age Net Satisfaction
 18-24  +13
 25-34  +25
 35-44  +25
 45-54  +33
 55+  +48

The analysis of employee net satisfaction by sector is interesting.

The average overall was a net satisfaction of +35. At the high end of the scale are employees in micro businesses (+40) and the voluntary sector (+39). Much lower than any other sector are employees in the large business sector (+25). The public sector also scored low at  +30.

Data gained with regard to director/senior managers are instructive as well. The survey was able to establish net satisfaction scores with the following statements about director/senior managers:

  Net Satisfaction
They consult employees about important decisions. -27
They treat employees with respect. +8
I trust them. -5
I have confidence in them. -1
They have a clear vision of where the organisation is going. +19
Clearly, employees are feeling neglected when it comes to being consulted about important decisions. The lack of trust of senior managers should also be real cause for concern.

Other major findings from the survey include:
  • A high percentage of employees reported they are under excessive pressure either every day or once or twice per month (41%)
  • Around one fifth of employees (22%) felt it was likely or very likely they could lose their job as a result of the economic downturn (we think this is a very worrying finding)
  • Over one third of employees (36%) reported their standard of living had deteriorated over the last six months

Outsourcing Inspiration

Readers familiar with practices in hospitals will know that getting health professionals to wash their hands can be a challenge. 

Researchers at one hospital placed two sets of signs around the hospital near soap and gel dispensers available to doctors and nurses. One set of signs read as follows:

Hand hygiene prevents you from catching diseases

The other sign changed one word and read as follows:

Hand hygiene prevents patients from catching diseases

The results? Changing 'you' to 'patients' resulted in an increase in soap and gel usage by a staggering 33%.

This is one example drawn from a Harvard Business Review article titled 'How customers can rally your troops', by Adam Grant. Grant's argument is that increasingly leaders are losing credibility to inspire their people. In what might surprise some leaders, Grant argues that people are less driven by financial and other incentives, and more influenced by direct contact with the end users of the service provided by the organisation. In the hospital example, health professionals were driven by a desire to protect their patients from disease.

Grant cites an experiment with which he was involved with university fundraising callers. These callers had the sole responsibility of convincing alumni to donate money. Annual turnover rates in the call centre were very, very high at around 400%.

The author invited several thousand executives to propose ways in which to motivate callers to improve their efforts. The vast majority of recommendations centred on addressing issues of self-interest, such as pay increases, promotions, recognition and the like.

The author spurned all these recommendations and invited a scholarship recipient to visit a group of fundraisers. The student spent five minutes describing how the callers' work had funded his scholarship, the difference this had made to his life, and how much he appreciated their efforts.

One month after the visit, the callers showed an average increase of 142% in weekly time spent on the phone and 171% increase in money raised.

Grant suggests that leaders do not abrogate their responsibilities to motivate staff. Rather, he suggests that leaders should lock arms with an inspirational ally - the users of the organisation's service. These end-users ought to be given the opportunity to share their experiences with staff.

We wholeheartedly agree!

Like to Join our LinkedIn Group?

We have created a LinkedIn group titled 'Workplace Culture and UGRs'. We can tell you that there are some fascinating discussions happening within the group.

For example, as we write this, we have 54 responses to this question: 

If you could provide one piece of advice to your CEO or Chairman of the Board about how to improve the organisation's culture, what would it be?

If you'd like to take a look at the group, go here

The UGRs Video

Some readers of Cultural Intelligence may not be aware of our UGRs video - which has received a huge number of hits on YouTube. We often get emails from people wishing to use the video in their leadership retreats or conferences. You can see the video by clicking on it below!

UGRs Video

About the Authors

Steve Simpson, CSP, is a consultant, author and international speaker based in Australia who specialises in workplace culture and customer service. Steve has featured at conferences across the globe, where he shares insights into his acclaimed UGRs® concept.

He is the author of two books including, ‘UGRs: Cracking the Corporate Culture Code’. He is also a contributing author to ‘The Power of Culture’

More details about Steve can be found by clicking here.

Stef du Plessis, CSP, is recognized internationally as a leading resource in the fields of self mastery, teamwork and leadership. Based in South Africa, Stef's focus is on Everyday Leadership... a brand of leadership based on living a pattern of excellence in one’s everyday living, which in turn inspires exceptional performance in those around you. He holds a Masters Degree – cum  laude – in Personal and Professional Leadership. His core programmes were developed in association with, and are endorsed by his alma mater, the University of Johannesburg.

He consults, speaks and conducts workshops and courses that grow people at all levels. More can be found about Stef by clicking here.

Stef and Steve work together with organisations across the globe to help them understand and boost their culture using the UGRs concept. If you would like to learn more, click here

That's It for This Month!

That's it for this month's edition Jane. Hope it's been of value to you.

Jane, we'd really appreciate your feedback on the newsletter - what you like, and how we can make it better.

We look forward to connecting next month!


Copyright © 2011 Steve Simpson, All rights reserved.