October 2013

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Written by Elizabeth Eyre on 1 October 2013 in Magazine

This month we're taking a look at culture. 'The way we do things around here' is one of the most powerful organisational forces at work in the workplace, affecting everything from a company's financial performance to where people go for lunch.

A report published by the Joseph Rowntree Trust as TJ went to press, for example, points to a negative organisational culture as one of the barriers to people in low-paid jobs moving up into better-paid positions. You can read the report at www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/poverty-ethnicity-workplace-culture-full.pdf.

Not surprisingly, given its pervasiveness, culture - changing it, improving it, communicating it, establishing it, mitigating its effects - is a continual source of work for L&D professionals. Changing culture in any way is a difficult undertaking, with no guarantee of success, as it requires a real commitment to change by everyone in an organisation.

However, help is at hand. We have a series of articles looking at different aspects of culture - including three very practical ones examining practice in different organisations - that we hope will be useful to you.

Our cover article this month is by Beverley Aylott (p22), who explains how the L&D team she leads at Guide Dogs (the charity previously known as Guide Dogs for the Blind) has created a culture of such respect and co-operation within the organisation that it is now being consulted on projects that have no L&D aspect to them. Aylott recounts her department's journey to becoming "an integral part of our business" and I hope you will be inspired by her success to embark on your own journey.

Similarly, Clara Lippert Glenn describes in her article on p30 the four steps that her organisation - The Oxford Princeton Programme - took to establish a positive, strong culture that has become an important part of its success.

And in her article on p43, Emma McClelland demonstrates how her employer, IT company UKFast, has moved away from traditional recruitment practices to recruiting people on the basis of their fit with the organisational culture. The company uses a variety of methods to determine whether applicants will fit, including psychometric tests and away days, and McClelland provides a number of metrics demonstrating the effect this approach has had on the bottom line.

On a more theoretical note, Larry Reynolds offers some practical tips for achieving cultural change (p39) and Sarah Tennyson uses Schein's organisational culture framework to outline the role L&D has to play in helping banks establish cultures of holistic risk management (p53). Jonathan Kettleborough explains how you as an L&D practitioner can create a culture within your department that sends out the right messages to the rest of the business (p57) while Pam Jones and Angela Jowitt show how a culture of managers coaching their teams can be created (p64).

We also have articles on learning technology, ROI and spaced learning, so enjoy!

Elizabeth Eyre, Editor



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