What do you want your shop culture to be like?

Have you ever given this any thought? Often times we take whatever culture shows up or develops in our shop. But do you have to? Do you have a choice? I believe that you do. In the shops I visit on a daily basis shop culture is formed from combination of ownership’s personality and the employees hired. This combination results in some very unique cultures! Before discussing what you can do to influence your organization’s culture let’s think about what you want it to be like.

If you were to design the work culture that you were to be immersed in everyday what would it look like? Would it be fun, supportive, customer focused, with an attitude of “let’s get to work”? Or would it be one of teamwork, customer first, strong communication, and focused on getting all the work done? I’m guessing for most anyone reading this it would probably be a combination of these and then some things I have listed. Let’s say you have given some thought as to how you want things at work to shape up. What can you do about it?

The first, and most challenging task in shaping workplace culture is to recognize what you yourself are contributing to it. In many workplaces challenging culture is not a result on one or two ornery employees but the combination of every one’s attitude and action. When you are honest with yourself, what do you contribute? Are you eternally grumpy? Always helpful? Constantly making suggestions for changes but unwilling or unable to change yourself? Are you someone who threatens to do something if things don’t change? Are you someone who listens, is supportive, and explains the reasons behind why you think changes should be made? Be honest with what you are contributing on a daily basis and make changes there first. A technique that many use is to wear a rubber band around their wrist all day long at work. When you see, hear, or feel yourself exhibiting behavior that you want to change snap your rubber band. This has the effect of calling your attention to the behavior so that you can choose to react in the new manner.

Once you’ve gotten a handle on your own behavior examine the working environment around the organization. Tony Robbins has some great YouTube videos on the things that humans need to be fully functioning. You can also find them referenced in the Dispute Resolution VILT program recording. Are your fellow employees feeling like they are significant, contributing, a part of something bigger than themselves? Are they confident in what their paycheck will be? Do they know what to expect at work and what is expected of them? Examine what may be missing in some of these areas and see if you can’t make adjustments to connect everyone more to the business. Review the employee section of the Dispute Resolution program for some more ideas.

The last thing that you can do is hire toward the culture you want to establish. If you want hard working men and women in your organization…hire them. Find them in industries know for hard workers – agriculture, logging, oil drilling, etc. Some of the best, hardest working, and most production people I’ve ever met in the automotive shops came from these industries. If you want a customer focused culture look in the hotel sector or talk to the next really good wait staff that serves you your next restaurant meal.

Culture can be challenging to change, and challenging to create but it can be done. Start with looking at what you contribute and make some positive changes before suggesting anyone else should do the same. After that try and determine if the organization and each job position is meeting the primary needs of every human being. According to Tony Robbins these are uncertainty, certainty, connectedness, significance, growth and contribution. Lastly, hire to develop an awesome culture!


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