The one question which tests your culture commitment

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Most employers are quick to proclaim their commitment to workplace culture but does that dedication really run deep? One industry expert says there’s a remarkably quick way to find out.

“There are some really basic but hard questions that people need to ask,” says culture guru Steve Simpson. “Stuff like – what do we do in a context where someone is not subscribing to the values?

According to Simpson, most employers say the person would have to be coached and improved – but what if that hasn’t worked and they’re still not in line with the company culture?

“They suggest putting in some extra support mechanisms and so on but again, you have to ask – what if all that hasn’t worked – what happens then?”

“Most employers say they guess they’d have to go – but what if I gave you one more bit of information? What if I tell you they’re the top performer in your team – what do you do now?”

Undoubtedly, most employers would hesitate and rethink their previous approach – throwing into question just how dedicated they really are to maintaining their company culture.

“They’re the sorts of questions which really test if you’re serious about your culture – are you serious or is culture only important until it threatens performance?

Simpson points to a recent client he was working with – a gold mining company in South Africa – which claimed to have a strong culture of safety with dedicated initiatives to back it up.

“Everyone talks safety and it’s very important and there are lots of programs in place but the bottom line is everyone knows if production is threatened, they can take short-cuts.”

Simpson – who has last year recognised as the Australian Educator of the Year – says any employer who wants to drive a positive company culture must be 100 per cent invested in it.

“You really have to ask yourself how serious you are about culture,” he says. “It sounds easy but real issue is it’s really tough. There are some really hard decisions that need to be made.”

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