A Lesson in Culture from New Zealand Rugby

Last weekend New Zealand became the first team to retain the World Cup. They have been dubbed ‘the Winningest Team’ as statistically the most successful team in sporting history. In the past four years they’ve lost just four matches – a staggering 93% win rate.

Back in 2003, they were a completely different team. Conduct off the field regularly involved being drunk and disorderly. In response, senior management called a meeting and players created a new phrase – ‘Better people make better All Blacks’. A culture that elevated the importance of off-field behaviour above on-field performance and would lead the team to greatness. It includes:

  • Sweep the sheds: After training sessions and matches, senior players ensure the changing rooms are left in the same state as when they arrived. By literally sweeping the floor.
  • No d***heads: An unofficial policy, where players agree that no one is bigger than the team. This means no binge drinking and no bringing women back to the hotels. Put the team first, yourself second.
  • Pass the ball: Management hand over a lot of responsibility to players to build their character off field. When it comes to game day there is ‘One Captain and 15 Leaders.’
  • Never moan: Players are instructed that whatever happens, to never moan, not about others players or to yourself. Mistakes happen.

The outcome is a high performance culture that they practice every single day in matches, training and their personal lives. Discipline and humility became ingrained in their behaviour, as Jonny Wilkinson perfectly summarises:

“They don’t have to try to play, they go out there and just behave. It’s not skills and effort, it’s their behaviour. It’s what they do.” – Jonny Wilkinson

In the video above, New Zealand facing defeat to Ireland demonstrate the discipline and belief that defines them. Organisations can use the same principles to create their own culture of success:

  • Lead from the top: Senior leaders must live by the vision and set an example. But most importantly, their actions must be visible to others throughout the organisation.
  • Personality before performance: A team member who gets individual results but damages the team’s performance, doesn’t support long term success. Recognise and reward values, not just performance.
  • Distribute responsibility:  Giving employees more autonomy creates a sense of ownership. Peer pressure creates accountability and less requirement for controls or punishments.
  • Tackle negativity:  Specifically set aside time for open and honest discussion. Build trusting, human relationships so issues are tackled proactively before negativity can spread.

In short, focus on behaviours which support the organisations’ mission and values. Then promote these values through leadership and rewards until they become habits. It may take time, but once everyone is moving in the same direction the results can be the best in the world.

My name is Andrew Shortland. I blog my thoughts on the future of work, corporate culture, employee engagement, and more. I’d love to connect and hear your views.

What is the Employee Experience?

No matter what industry you are in, whether you are selling products or services, employees are your first customers. The customer experience is a product of the interaction between customers and organisations over the duration of their relationship. Therefore, the similarity with the employee experience is no surprise:

“The employee experience is what happens when an employee interacts with your organization. It starts with how they first find and apply for a job at your company and ends with how they leave and includes everything in between.” – Jacob Morgan

And why is this important? The following statistics speak for themselves as symptoms, but pause to consider the cumulative experience:

I believe organisations should concentrate on crafting an employee experience that is meaningful and enjoyable. In the words of Cary Cooper “work should be fun”. Organisations must address both employees’ needs; salary and security, and their aspirations; career development, recognition, autonomy, well-being, happiness, and family.

Consider these parts together as a whole. A complete employee experience which develops a connection with the organisation and it’s purpose. Let’s make HR human and begin by making the relationship with employees personal.

My name is Andrew Shortland. I blog my thoughts on the future of work, corporate culture, employee engagement, and more. I’d love to connect and hear your views.

Why I Aspire to Become an Organisation Development Professional

Next week I am starting a placement with Staffordshire County Council working in the OD department, making this a good time to start my blog. It’s a big change for someone who studied accounting at university, but it has been a few years in the making and I’m a firm believer in following your passions.

“Success in business is all about people, people, people. Whatever industry a company is in, its employees are its biggest competitive advantage” – Richard Branson

Work is a personal endeavour and although people’s motivations differ, this is something organisations must recognise and utilise. Engaging, motivating and retaining talent is more important than ever, because change is the only constant in the modern world – disruptive technologies and new ways of working can turn industries on their heads. The HR profession is evolving; moving away from a support and administrative function, towards the key to organisational strategy by ensuring its people are aligned with its business objectives.

Many organisations are renaming their HR roles to reflect this – including ‘People’, ‘Talent’ and ‘Experience’ in their titles or even renaming the function altogether e.g. Google’s ‘People Operations’. In it’s new role, HR is about creating workplaces where employees want to engage, feeling a sense of ownership and pride. It’s about creating an employee experience.

I’ve always been interested in why people do what they do, what happens inside organisations and how to improve performance. People are at the heart of everything a company does, through leveraging culture and organisation design it’s possible to improve performance and build competitive advantage. Even the best business strategy can fail without successfully executing people strategy and I aspire to be at the forefront of crafting an employee experience that enables the entire organisation to thrive.

My name is Andrew Shortland. I blog my thoughts on the future of work, corporate culture, employee engagement, and more. I’d love to connect and hear your views.