What Is Culture and Why Does It Matter to AA Munro in 2019?
by Frank Gallant at Peak Experiences Consulting
Culture is kind of a “smoky” thing … something that’s hard to explain but you certainly know right away when you walk into a healthy or unhealthy workplace.
Culture is not about groovy office spaces or funky furniture or free Chinese food. It’s more about how your aunt and uncle greet and treat you when you come into their home. Because culture is essentially about behaviour.
Constructive behaviours are easy to see, feel and experience. But ineffective behaviours can scare you. Or sometimes they can quietly sneak in like the fog on a early morning walk and all of a sudden you know something is not quite right.
I first worked with AA Munro Insurance on culture in 2006. We used tools from Human Synergistics International to measure Leadership Styles and do an Organizational Cultural Inventory. Coworkers offered their opinions and insights into the strengths and weaknesses of AA Munro so we could reflect on what was working and where individual offices could make improvements.
The assessment results were really sound overall. They provided a great deal of confidence to the teams of people at the time to keep doing much of what they were doing while aiming for a few key improvements.
You may recall completing a cultural assessment in the spring of 2018. Thank you for your participation and input into that process.
The results for the current cultural assessment show some really positive advancements for AA Munro. In fact, in my 27 year career, I have never seen such powerful results for a Organizational Cultural Inventory. Congrats on being the “best of the best” my firm has ever seen!
From my perspective, by and large you feel your roles are clear. You have autonomy and the knowledge of the results you can bring to the tasks at hand. You treat each other well, with respect and in ways other people perceive as fair and equitable. You feel empowered to take initiative, assert yourselves, experiment and have ownership over your day. You feel safe. You know communication is two way and your investment in open and clear communication pays off. You know that mistakes are viewed as opportunities for learning and improvement.
All this might be summed up by saying that you’re “people based.”
But the report also showed that there is not always full agreement that things are great in all areas of the workplace. Nor are people always consistent in how they behave.
I have carefully reviewed all your feedback with my senior consultants, your steering committee and a mix of others from AA Munro (a group we’ve dubbed TAG—the “team alignment group”). The main cultural improvement that I see possible for you is working to achieve realistic goals for your own self-improvement. What practical actions can you take to really live up to your potential? How can you empower your coworkers each day to live up to theirs?
This might be summed up by saying that I’m inviting you to become more “performance focused.”
As I noted at the start, culture is hard to define. And behaviours can be hard to change. I don’t know exactly what will make a difference for you. But you’re part of an exciting company filled with great people. I’m honoured to be working alongside you as AA Munro prepares to celebrate 75 years.
Frank Gallant is the leader of a small family owned consulting business called Peak Experiences Consulting. He lives with his wife Heather on a natural eco-reserve in Antigonish. He has been working to support a wide diversity of businesses, organizations and communities from across the Maritimes since 1992. His focus is working to bring out the best in both individuals and teams.