I remember in 2004 listening to a talk by Professor Sunantra Ghoshal about organisational culture. When speaking about revitalising people in the workplace and how effective it is to do so. He argues that people will be revitalised and optimised when working within a culture that supports growth, motivation, collaboration, and innovation. He describes it as a context that Management and Senior leadership is responsible for as well as the environment for work.

Ghosal uses the following analogy from his personal experience: Born in the city of Calcutta, India, he taught at the London Business School and lived in London, before that he lived in Fontainebleau, France for about 8 years. Each year he travelled back to Calcutta for a vacation and a visit to home. Ghosal goes on to explain that during the summer season the temperature can soar to +- 40 degrees Celsius with the humidity at around 90% with these conditions, you can well imagine how lethargic and draining a vacation there would be? The overpopulated areas and general conditions make for a bad “smell of the place”

In contrast, while living in Fontainebleau, in the springtime Ghosal and his family would take walks through the forest nearby. His recollection of this experience is that there is “something about the feeling of the place, the crispness of air and the smell of the trees” it makes you want to run or hike or jog, it energises you to an exuberant level.

The problem, according to Ghosal is that most larger organisations create the culture of downtown Calcutta where their people are not allowed to take initiative, leaders are leading through autocracy and from a place of fear, creating a not so good “smell” of the place, you can see it when you walk into an organisation if you are in tune, its not hard to miss. When we look at organisational cultures at The Change Lab, its easy to spot before a survey or any engagements. Here are some of the signs of a poor culture:

–       Managers are unapproachable

–       The leadership culture is one of fear leading

–       Morale is generally low

–       Engagement is low

–       Innovation suffers

–       Collaboration is almost impossible

–       The bottom line is affected by internal reputational damage

Again the forest of Fontainebleau is another corporate culture where quite the opposite “smell of the place” is prevalent

–       Teams are energised

–       Failure is allowed

–       Leadership is service focused

–       There is a culture of coaching and inclusion

–       Engagement is high and teams become company advocates

–       Collaboration is part of the company DNA

What is the Smell of your place? How can you change it if need be and what is the journey to go from one to another?

At The Change Lab, we offer solutions around culture through an inclusive Change Management, coaching and training process, a bottom down and top up approach as well as ongoing solutions to ensure that teams function optimally, are stimulated, energised and buy into the organisation’s ethos. We assist to ensure that leaders engage, serve and are brave enough to step into their own vulnerability, all while leading with the end in mind.

Contact us today to find out more


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