Managers, Not HR, Drive Open Work Culture

Managers serve as the critical channel in ensuring that the workplace is open and interactive. They support the cultural change and are the ones who set the tone and define how work should be done.

To support managers in creating an open culture, there are several tools that are available to them.

  • An open physical workplace – instead of offices – facilitates open discussions and increased interaction.
  • Technology has a key role too, with a common platform for sharing documents or having online discussion threads.
  • HR can facilitate small group meetings or focus groups that encourage employees to bring forth areas of improvement or innovative ideas. The best ideas do not necessarily come from the most senior employees, so providing a platform for people to submit innovative ideas can not only reap business benefits but also reinforce an open work culture. When these ideas are submitted, HR should ensure that they are evaluated and feasible ideas are implemented.

More importantly, other than the above-mentioned tools, HR is in an unique position to observe how business is run and provide managers with feedback on how their behaviour has an impact on the work culture. For example, HR has an opportunity to coach managers appropriately in situations where the feedback may be negative. On the other hand, HR has a role to play in promoting an open culture by encouraging managers to reward and recognise employees that demonstrate collaborative behaviour.

In sum, managers are accountable to ensure an open culture of collaboration, engagement, and mutual respect. HR practitioners are accountable to ensure that managers be or stay successful in achieving this noble agenda.

 First appeared in HRM Magazine 13.2, March 2013 Issue

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