Culture Has Eaten Strategy For Breakfast

They say that ‘Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast’, right now Australia is living proof.

New legislation for sexual harassment in the workplace.

4 March, 2021

culture has eaten strategy for breakfast

Everyone has a story about culture. Just a few weeks ago I was doing a coastal walk with a friend. She told me why she left her recent role as a senior researcher, she loved the ‘work’ but left because of the culture, couldn’t handle it anymore. She stopped dead in her tracks, turned and looked at me and said ‘it’s everything isn’t it?!’. Apparently it is not just me who feels like this.

I have worked in the workplace culture-safety space for so long now. I live and breathe it. I even dream about it. Sad but true.

I know how important having a safe and respectful workplace and positive culture is because I am constantly seeing the harm when we mess it up.

We are messing it up.

With a global pandemic hot on our heels, our mental health is already in a bad place. I wrote an article at the start of the pandemic warning of the importance of great leadership and great communication at this time, and the risk of what I then termed ‘pandemic bullying’. Pandemic bullying is now very real. It is different and it exists.

As I write this article my son is in Canberra on his school camp, visiting Parliament House, today. No doubt full of hope and admiration. No idea about the serious allegations, press conferences and underlying systemic cultural problems. How sad and disappointing.

Culture has eaten strategy for breakfast. And the ripple effect is enormous.

It really is time to actually do this better. Doing this better is not easy. It is not conducting one survey, one review and doing a training program here or there, or having one ‘champion’ on the board.

Doing this better, making our cultures safer and more respectful for all, requires absolute commitment from the absolute top. From all of the top, and most importantly – making sure the top ‘get it’. Doing this better means getting picky about who we have at the top, why are they there? Are they there to live and breathe your ‘values’, do they genuinely understand the risks and importance of providing a safe and respectful culture?.

Without this I promise you (after working with hundreds of organisations, on hundred of cases and investigations for over 18 years) it will always be an uphill battle.

So we have a choice. We can continue to half-do our cultures or we can challenge our current ways, educate people on the why, so we can start putting a big fat wooden stick in the wonky wheel of workplace culture in Australia and start again.

As we head into International Women’s Day next week, instead of floating around some cupcakes (as much as I love cupcakes), please go next level and take time to educate people within your organisation about WHY we actually ‘celebrate’ this day. Dig deeper and teach people about why it’s so important. Otherwise, what is the point? the same poor behaviours will be back the next day.

It’s 2021. We are preparing people to go and live a life on Mars. It’s time to do this better so our next generation of excited little people don’t pay the price for us failing.