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Strategies on Business Culture

In a Harvard Business Review article, Michael Porter said this:

“the essence of strategy is choosing a unique and valuable position rooted in systems of activities that are much more difficult to match.”

While strategies in most aspects of business might be easy to copy; one that is particularly difficult to match is culture.

Which is why some of the businesses I share in my posts on business culture strategies have not only a culture that is difficult to copy, they also have superior performance compared to their peers.

Here are some of the best examples of business culture strategies:

Business Culture goes beyond staff training: in this post, I share how one difference in attitude between two staff makes a whole lot of difference in customer experience.

How can your business attract the best possible team: in this post, I share how having a positive work culture can help you in attracting the best employees.

Invest in professional development of your managers: In the UK, they have a standard for the development of people called Investors In People. I share why investing in the professional development of your managers, if done properly, will help your business reap benefits manifold.

Does having happier workers lead to better performance: Arguably, having happier workers does lead to better performance. In this post, I share some evidences from my working with clients.

The single most common challenge faced by business leaders when creating the company’s desired culture: I get many enquiries from business leaders about creating their company’s desired culture. In this post, I share the number 1 challenge faced by them.

“Only complaints; not compliments”: It is very much a “Singaporean” thing, where we complain more than we compliment. In this post, I share a case study on how that affects the staff morale of your staff in real life.

Want a strategy that is difficult to match?

Your business culture is one aspect that is truly difficult to copy by your competitors. Having the right business culture will certainly help your business perform better than the competition.

If training and branding exercises haven’t given your business the lasting results it deserves, then it is time to examine how we can help your team formulate strategies for your business culture.

Is your work culture attracting your dream team?



Before I graduated from my diploma course in 1994, I secured two job interviews.

One was with a bank as a PR executive, prestigious location with nice looking workstations plus excellent career path. I had shared with the PR manager who interviewed me that my goal was to be in her role in a few years.

The other was for a position as an events executive with a local SME located in an industrial area. There was no clear training pathways or career progression.

Both offered me the job. I chose the latter because the people I bumped into at the company were warm and friendly. Whereas, the environment at the bank felt sterile.

That was my first taste of an aspect of “work culture” as I now understand it.

A positive environment will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line.

Work culture refers to the beliefs, thought processes, attitudes of the employees, ideologies, and principles of the organisation. The culture determines the way employees interact with each other and how an organisation functions.

To a large extent, management sets the tone for how the culture is and evolves. For example, if the management has a fixed mindset and extols virtues of competiveness, then the culture will be one where individuals and teams put their personal survival and gain as priority instead of synergising with others. In the past, good employees often stay on in spite of culture, for the sake of their rice bowl.

It is now a different landscape.

If a company does not keep up with increasingly loud call for a positive work culture, then business owners will have difficulty attracting the dream team he or she desires. A talented high performing individual will naturally choose a company that is aligned to his or her values. If she or he places teamwork and supportive colleagues high on the values list, then a company known for its positive work culture would be the top choice.

download team spirit

As a business owner, how would having a positive work culture benefits you?

A large and growing body of research on positive organizational psychology shows that not only is a cut-throat environment harmful to productivity over time, but that a positive environment will lead to dramatic benefits for employers, employees, and the bottom line.

In a Harvard Business Review article, the authors wrote about how positive work cultures are more productive. It shared about a research article published in the Journal of Applied Behavioural Science in which Kim Cameron and his colleagues at the University of Michigan found that a workplace characterized by positive and virtuous practices excels in a number of domains.

Positive and virtuous practices include:

  • Caring for, being interested in, and maintaining responsibility for colleagues as friends.
  • Providing support for one another, including offering kindness and compassion when others are struggling.
  • Avoiding blame and forgive mistakes.
  • Inspiring one another at work.
  • Emphasizing the meaningfulness of the work.
  • Treating one another with respect, gratitude, trust & integrity.

Cameron and his colleagues explain that there are three reasons these practices benefit the company. Positive practices:

  • Increase positive emotions which broaden employees’ resources and abilities by improving people’s relationships with each other and amplifying their creativity and ability to think creatively.
  • Buffer against negative events like stress, improving employees ability to bounce back from challenges and difficulties.
  • Attract and bolster employees, making them more loyal and bringing out the best in them.

There are bottom-line benefits as well. Summarizing the findings, Cameron explains that: “When organizations institute positive, virtuous practices they achieve significantly higher levels of organizational effectiveness — including financial performance, customer satisfaction, and productivity”.

There are many small steps you can take to start building one that is vibrant and positive – where employees feel valued, engaged and are proud to be your company’s ambassadors. They will become the dream team that you have envisioned.

successBut first, it starts with you making the decision on culture. That will set the stage for what follows next.

For ways to build a positive work culture, contact us to find out more about our Positivity at Work programmes.


Celebrating Values on World Values Day

World Values Day

World Values Day (WVD) will be celebrated around the world on the first truly international World Values Day to be held on 20th October, 2016. The purpose of WVD will be to raise and deepen awareness and practice of values all around the world – highlighting the crucial role of values in the well-being of individuals, families, schools, organisations and society as a whole.”


It was in 2005 that I had my first reflective session on values hierarchy work. It made me realize how deeply values impacted both the conscious and unconscious decisions that we make and actions that we take in our lives. Some of the wise and not so clever decisions I have made were all driven by values. And when I understood them better, it helped transformed my life and relationships. It also benefitted my business.

For example, making a difference and fun are two top values for me. That’s why starting and running Dream Catalyst is fulfilling because it allows me to enjoy multiple roles (consultant, trainer, coach and mentor, author and artist)  working with diverse clients (businesses, teams, non profit organisations and individuals) and making a positive difference in their lives.

Since the personal “aha” transformation, I’ve actively included values work in my coaching sessions with individuals and also in my consultancy and training journey with businesses.

Helping businesses, teams and individuals to align values in order to enjoy positivity in their lives and workplaces reap so much benefits.

World Values Day 2That’s why it made me smile big time when I read an FB post about the first world values day.  The more awareness is raised on the crucial role of values in the well-being of individuals, families, schools, organisations and society as a whole, the brighter our world will be.

To find out more on how you can support World Values Day initiative: http://www.worldvaluesday.com/

To better engage your team through understanding of values, contact us to find out more about “The Cultural Transformation Tools” programme which you can use to map your values to measure and manage your culture.  What you measure, you can manage.


Is it true that everyone knows how to smile?

source: en.m.wikipedia.or
source: en.m.wikipedia.org

In my training modules, I often include a sharing on the four stages of learning or competence. It enables the participants to understand their learning process, as well as encourage them to be open to learning new skills. And also for management’s understanding of training dynamics and assessment of training needs.

In this first post in a series of 4, I would like to share on the first stage of Unconscious Incompetence. This is where we are unaware that we lack a certain competency. We often assume that “they should know it” but “they may not even be aware that they do not know it.”

An example is how employers in the service sector assume that their employees can smile and connect with customers. If you have been a customer, you will know that this is certainly not true. Some service teams naturally have brightest smiles, many others often greet you with blank faces and non eye contact.

Another example is the case of a valued employee who excels in his job but when promoted to a manager, fails miserably in leading his team. It is an erroneous assumption of management that this excellent employee knows how to manage a team. But with effective training and coaching of skills, he certainly has the potential to be an effective leader.

By taking nothing for granted and equipping their teams with the necessary skills, management and business owners will be able to build teams who are engaged, joyous, resilient and able to create value in their doing and being.