Culture Changer

Wouldn’t you like to go into work every day with a spring in your step, knowing you and your colleagues will be able to deal with any challenge that this volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous world throws at you?

Or, are you – as I was – stuck in a toxic work environment?

Fifteen years ago I had a great job in a complex part of the world.  I loved my work, but hated the palpable tension for eight hours of each office day.  Eventually it got so bad that we all hunted around for a team-builder. 

The team-building experience was hugely cathartic:  little by little, the issues were surfaced, explored and dealt with.  For me it was a career-changer – I’d found a role that was challenging but which suited my skillset and aptitude!

Workplace culture is one of the most important factors influencing productivity in organisations. 

Surprisingly, the Not-for-profit sector isn’t any better than the commercial sector in terms of the working environment- and it can be a whole lot worse. 

Why so?  Well, there are similar pressures – for results, financial resources, good staff, turf and customers (clients). 

But there is also a particular feature of humanitarian and social change work:  there seems to be this idea that the work we’re doing is so urgent and important (true) that looking after each other – and dealing with our interpersonal, cultural stuff – isn’t important (not true).

What’s the Block?

Efforts to address dysfunction can be postponed until everything gets really bad.  Delays are due to:

  • fear of making things worse (“What!?  Lift the Lid on our Pandora’s Box?  Get everyone to vent their frustrations?  No thanks!”) 
  • fear of the process, not knowing what’s going to happen 
  • fear of conflict and not being in control.  If you’re the leader who’s supposed to be in control, how will you know what to do?  

Reasons you need to take action now: 

  • People’s work fills too large a part of their hours on this planet to spend any in unnecessary friction.
  • The cost of not taking action:  
    What’s the cost of productivity losses due to dysfunction? 
    Of the lost innovation and administrative bottlenecks? 
    The cost of failed recruitment? 
    Or the cost of sick days due to physical and mental health concerns directly related to the toxic working environment.
    Or the consequences of the simple errors that go unchecked and uncorrected because colleagues don’t support out for each other? 
  • Now try estimating the value of the increased sales and delivery targets you could achieve if people were pulling in the same direction, sorting problems out themselves, tackling tricky issues together, bouncing ideas of each other to develop the most creative pitch, setting up collaborative relationships with local partners who respect your organisation.

What are you waiting for?

How People Zone supports Culture Change

At People Zone our Culture Changer programme transforms the workplace culture from toxic to motivating and inspiring. 

We offer two high-impact and catalytic interventions:  Purposeful Teams and Heart of Leadership

Both were developed by Worldsview Academy, a private South African company specialising in Organisation Development whose materials are ideally suited to the challenges experienced in both the private and the Not for Profit sector.    Find out more about these interventions below.

Purposeful Teams

Purposeful TeamsTM provides space and an open process to help Senior Management Teams examine team culture and the extent to which elements of it are helping, or hindering, performance. We explore team behaviours, personality styles, team roles and norms. We reconnect people to the organisation’s Vision and Mission, and the Team’s contribution to achieving it and to each other. We end with renewed commitment to collaborative working and a transformed culture.

(3-4 day intervention, rolling out across 1-3 blocs; 8-12 delegates drawn from a single management team)

Heart of Leadership

Heart of LeadershipTM extends the transformed leadership culture throughout the organisation, challenging staff at all levels and in all sectors to make the choice to step up as leaders or active followers and have a greater influence on how the organisation achieves its mission. The intervention rolls out over one to two days and can involve any number of participants. It was created by Worldsview Academy and is adapted by People Zone to fit each organisational context.

(1-2 days, for 10+ delegates, no limit)

Lesley is a highly professional consultant with strong integrity who managed to lead “a stormy” team” into constructive dialogue over the various stages of the Purposeful Team  intervention. 

The changes are remarkable, and the work has resulted in a high performing task-oriented team. 

Sanna Johnson

Regional Director, Save the Children (MENA)

Purposeful Teams™ has equipped our industry-specific teams with the skills they need to focus on the end point. They now have a common goal that can be reached with the personal strengths of each individual adding to the collective strength of very focused teams,

Jacques Swanepoel

HR Manager, Worldsview Technologies

The Heart of Leadership provided great insight on how great leaders use powerful story telling to attract followers.

The training encouraged me to look deep into who I am as a leader, and reflect on the type of leader I want to be. 

I particularly valued the coaching approach of this leadership development training, and the value of helping us analyse our leadership style and build on that rather than guiding us towards a type of leadership which isn’t me.  

It inspired us to reflect on our leadership skills and planning for our future development.  

various participants, Save the Children

Lesley is a wonderful facilitator with a great sense for group dynamics and underlying issues like equity. 

Her beautiful, sincere spirit enables her to create space for vibrant conversations, learning and touching on sensitive issues. Her key strength is creating  an open learning environment through games which she effortlessly translates to learning outcomes.

Nicolette van Duursen

Country Director, Marie Stopes International