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WHIN Monthly Bulletin

Work Culture: What Changes and Training Inputs Should We Make in our Organization?

Dr. Angus I. McLeod

Each company has a different ‘readiness for change’ based upon the hiring standards and both skill-base and soft-skills training that is done each year. It is important to select the interventions for change knowing your work-culture and readiness for the proposed change. The three tiers below offer three levels of change that progress towards a developed and effective work-culture. The most important are numbered low at the start of each list, but to adopt, your people must be ready for the proposed change; if not, skip that and do it later! Tier C is at the lowest level of staff development, but you may still find a change program that, though your business nominally ranks higher than ‘C’, you have not yet considered or adopted; it is therefore worth reviewing all three tiers from Tier C., so that nothing pivotal is lost. This document is a work-in-progress and feedback is welcome!

If senior management and the HR team is brought in to effect work-culture change, then some of the Tier B interventions may be brought into a Tier C company earlier.

Tier C (Defined as… ‘having a of low-level of Training & Development done in the company to date; and no personality-testing attainment required for hire’ typically, the working environment is not precisely controlled, demarked and traceable and there are unplanned events requiring fire-fighting):

  1. Supervisor-training in coaching skills (reduce staff-leavings, especially in first 90 days – competitively show supervisor’s ‘employee retention scores’ within the supervisor group and support-mentor/train them as needed)
    1. Focus on soft-skills including: Exquisite Listening, Reflective Language and use of narratives (by example, case-study & personal experience)
  2. Set out absolute requirements for safety & quality; manage and review and where possible bring in real-time management (Digital apps for 5s for example) or digital displays
  3. Multi-tasking at the shop-floor to approved standards and posted for all (cover absentees)
  4. Where useful, form teams[1] and healthy competition for team-recognition
    1. Develop ‘team’ responsibility to one another
    2. Potentially add a competitive points-scheme and a best team(s) annual prize
    3. May also add team-responsibility for covering all team tasks, with the team covering those roles (switching with other teams, calling in people on holiday for example)
  5. Without setting up Behavioral Norms, establish a few key behavioral expectations (which will later become part of a wider policy): for example: Politeness and respect; listen without interruption.


Tier B (Defined as… ‘having a medium level of Training & Development done over 3-5 years’; you may have some lean/5s disciplines and timely, systematic reviews of quality, safety and operational procedures):

  1. Supervisors and first-line management to have soft-skills training & Performance Review best-practice training
    1. Skills will enhance listening ability, Reflective Language, use of ‘carrots and sticks’ etc.
    2. Workers will score themselves and a review will ALWAYS happen as time-tabled, with the reviewer/supervisor/manager asking questions, challenging politely to get to agreed scores for performance skills and behavioral skill levels
  2. C-Suite: Leadership development and 1-2-1 Coaching
  3. Behavioral Norms - Develop and Support at all levels (use for promotions etc.)
  4. Safety and Quality: Adopt a standard methodology for reporting/calling-out divergence from norms
  5. Corporate Feedback Norms – adopt, in practice and procedures
  6. Routinely have career-development and training 1-2-1 reviews, investment and follow-up
  7. Incorporate community projects including some paid time slots when supporting one of these bodies
  8. Positively-state requirements on the corporate web-site, work-notices, bathrooms, contracts of employment…
  9. Staff to report/alert beyond their work-space, for corporate non-normal safety & quality issues


Tier A (Defined as… ‘having a high level of Training & Development done over 5+ years and may already have personality testing attainment requirement for hire’; almost certainly you have high standards of health & safety, 5s and or 6 sigma):

  1. Senior Manager’s Leadership training to include heavy soft-skills development
  2. Offer and Appoint Company Champions (provide badging, tunics or hats) who score at high levels on both skills and behavioral norms; add to accelerated-development program
  3. Advance a company ‘call-out’ non-compliance method when infringements are observed in: Behavioral Norms, safety, quality, waste, productive-efficiency in any work location, at any level
  4. Train towards a ‘Coaching Culture’ where listening & questioning skills are paramount
  5. Culture-aligned personality test-pass required for ANY position/interview in the company
  6. Career-development and training reviews are systematic, reviewed and investment per staff numbers is higher than the business competition
  7. Secondments to local charitable bodies
  8. Secondments and 1-3 month job-swaps within the Supply-chain (or outside the supply chain where necessary, or because of an added advantage to learning)
    1. improve supply-chain relationships & trust, slip-stream methods and costs for improved partnership
  9. Appoint 50% or more women to the most senior positions for corporate success.


[1] This could be a shift on one line, activity or product.