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Touching back on my last blog I mentioned that culture needs to become a strategic business priority (like sales, profit, etc.) and not just a HR priority.

boat with leader Source:

Leadership teams can start the creation of high performance cultures by implementing the following 6 steps:

1. Establish a sense of urgency

They need to make it clear that the current culture needs to change, articulate the vision and business case, and describe the opportunity (as John P. Kotter states in his book The 8-Step Process for Leading Change) in a way that appeals to the hearts and minds of people.

2. Develop a set of strategic beliefs

These are the beliefs senior executives have about their organisation’s environment that enables shaping business strategy e.g. Dell believed that customers would, if the price was right, buy computers from a catalogue rather than go to computer stores as the conventional wisdom dictated they would. They created a $7 billion business.

3. Develop a set of values

Values enable the organisation to act on its strategic beliefs and implement their strategy the right way. Values shape the culture of an organisation, define its character and serve as a foundation in how people act and make decisions. Dell’s values supporting its strategy and strategic beliefs include: Delivering results that make a positive difference; leading with openness and optimism and winning with integrity.

4. Capitalise on quick wins

Capitalize on and honour your cultural strengths and act quickly on any critical behaviour changes required.

5. Challenge those norms that get on the way of high performance

Norms are informal guidelines about what is considered normal (what is correct or incorrect) behaviour in a particular situation. Peer pressure to conform to team norms is a powerful influencer on people’s behaviour, and it is often a major barrier affecting change. It is always easier to go along with the norm than trying to change it…. Common samples of negative norms in some organisations: Perception that it is ok to yell at people, ignore people’s opinions, etc.

6. Role model and recognise the desired behaviours

As Gandhi wonderfully put it “Be the change you want to see in the world”. This empowers action and helps embed the desired culture you are trying to create. Behaviour is a function of its consequences. Behaviour that results in pleasant consequences is more likely to be repeated, and behaviour that results in unpleasant consequences is less likely to be repeated. According to B. F. Skinner and reinforcement theory “future behavioural choices are affected by the consequences of earlier behaviours”. The argument is clear; if you want people to be brave and challenge the status quo, you shouldn’t make them feel awkward or like difficult employees when they do. Furthermore, if want people to contribute at meetings make sure you actively listen to them and act on their suggestions and ideas.


On his famous article “On the folly of rewarding A while hoping for B” Steven Kerr argues that the way in which we reward and recognise people doesn’t always deliver the desired results. We all have being in situations where we are told to plan for long-term growth yet we are rewarded purely on quarterly earnings; we are asked to be a team player and are rewarded solely on our individual efforts; we are told that the way in which results are achieved is important and yet we promote people who achieve results the wrong / in a Machiavellian way. A friend of mine was recently at a hospital and he complained to the ward manager about the doctor’s bad manners and rudeness. The answer he got was “do you want to be treated by the best heart doctor in the country or a not so good doctor but with a really nice bed manner?”.

My argument is why can’t we have both?

Pedro Angulo is the Programme Director of the IMI Diploma in Strategic HR Management starting on 16th November 2016. Pedro is an Organisational Effectiveness Business Partner in AIB and Chairperson of the Irish EMCC (European Mentoring and Coaching Council). He is a motivational speaker and regular presenter at HR, coaching, change and business conferences / events. _____________________________________ [post_title] => 6 Steps to start the creation of high performance cultures [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => open [ping_status] => open [post_password] => [post_name] => 6-strategies-start-creation-high-performance-cultures [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2020-05-11 19:48:25 [post_modified_gmt] => 2020-05-11 19:48:25 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => post [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) )


12th May 2023

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5 Priorities for Becoming a More Strategic People Manager
6 Steps to start the creation of high performance cultures

The Impact of Disruption on Gen Z Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected almost every aspect of modern life, including education and employment. One group that has been particularly impacted by these disruptions is Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, who are now entering the workforce. These young people face unique challenges in the workplace that stem from their disrupted education during the pandemic.

One of the key challenges for Gen Z in the workplace is a lack of certain social skills that are typically learned through in-person education and social interactions. Many Gen Z workers have spent much of their lives online, especially after having pivoted to virtual learning during the pandemic. A consequence of this disruption is that they may lack the interpersonal skills that are vital for success in many workplaces.

“Many clients are reporting a relatively sudden dilemma facing young talent as it struggles with onboarding, this appears to be a direct result of the Pandemic with pre-covid and post-covid graduates displaying different traits”, says Julie Ryan, Head of Customised Executive Education at IMI. This may include communication, teamwork, and conflict resolution skills. “Without the opportunity to learn and practice these skills in person, Gen Zers are particularly struggling to navigate the social dynamics of the workplace”, says Julie.

Influencing and communicating with senior stakeholders can be a significant challenge for Gen Z employees but the lack of in-person socialisation over the past few years has brought a lack confidence to assert themselves effectively. Additionally, their communication style may be perceived as overly casual and for some, this is being perceived as a lack in respect for authority, which can create barriers to effective collaboration with senior colleagues.

“For 20 years, we have been supporting graduates transitioning from the world of academia to the world of work and employers want to see personal leadership begin at the point of career entry. However, Gen Z employees are needing even more additional support and training in communication and relationship-building skills than their pre-covid peer onboarders”, says Julie Ryan. By equipping them with these skills, organisations can help ensure that their Gen Z workforce is able to make valuable contributions to the company and thrive in their careers.

Despite these challenges, there are many ways that organisations can support and develop Gen Zers in the workplace. One key strategy is to provide opportunities for in-person learning and socialisation, such as team-building exercises or professional development programmes. These can help Gen Zers develop the social and interpersonal skills they may have missed out on during their disrupted education.

Mentorship and coaching opportunities are also of key importance in developing the Gen Z workforce, and helping them to navigate the complexities of the workplace. This can include pairing graduates with more experienced colleagues, or offering training and development programmes that focus on the skills Gen Zers may be lacking.

Finally, it’s important for organisations to recognise the strengths and unique perspectives that Gen Zers can bring to the workplace. This generation has grown up in a rapidly changing world, and as a result, may have valuable insights into emerging trends and technologies. By embracing these strengths and providing opportunities for growth and development, businesses can create a more diverse and inclusive workplace that benefits everyone.

While the disruption to education caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has created unique challenges for Gen Z staff entering the workforce, with the right support and development opportunities, organisations can help them to overcome these challenges and thrive in the workplace. By recognising their strengths and investing in their development, organisations can create a more diverse and successful workplace for everyone.

If your organisation works with Gen Z graduates, and you want to find out more about exactly what makes them tick, sign up for our Graduate Development webinar, taking place on 25th May at 10am.