Culture Club by Wendy Copeland

How do you describe workplace culture to an alien… I hoped ‘google’ would have an answer, they didn’t.

I then thought of 80s pop culture and two bands jumped into my head ‘Fun Boy Three and Banarama’ when they covered a 1939 jazz standard – “It Ain’t What You Do (It’s The Way That You Do It)” (1982)

I then thought of Culture Club, and the pop culture that they helped form, which still influences popular culture today.

The Blitz Kids were a group of young people who frequented the weekly Blitz club-night in Covent GardenLondon in 1979-80, and are credited with launching the New Romantic cultural movement.

They had a common set of values, beliefs and behaviours, as well as a unique style. All part of the new romantic  culture.

(watch David Bowie’s Ashes to Ashes video – an early culture adopter filmed with extras from The Blitz).

Wendy Cop 1

Come on Wendy back into the room, what does this all mean to all of us that work in Health and Social Care and the culture we help create and work within.

Here’s a more appropriate definition

An organisation’s culture consists of the values, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours that employees share and use on a daily basis in their work.

The culture determines how our workforce describes where they work, how they understand the system, and how they see themselves as part of the organisation. Culture is also a driver of decisions, actions, and ultimately the overall performance of the organisation.

Our Board invested in measuring our cultural norms a few months ago, you may have contributed to the survey. We are in the process of rolling out a further cohort of individual feedback reports, that helps the person get to know them self, and identifies their own beliefs, values behaviours and assumptions, and measures how others experience them.

We used a tool called Life Style Inventory (LSI), we choose this tool as it looks at strengths as well as self -defeating behaviours, in the hope that the person will further improve what is good and work to change what they could be better at.

The tool measures 12 styles  in which we choose to think about our self and how others see us operate whilst at work.

Think about it like a big 12 slice pizza, some are tasty some are not.

We all love the blue slices!     We could do with less green ones……… and let’s keep reducing the red

Wendy Cop 2Wendy Cop 3Wendy Cop 4

For people who would like more detail

In the spirit of transparency here’s some of the learning that we, as accredited LSI practitioners have learnt about our self.

Caroline Sharp, Workforce Director NHS. Asking for feedback is a pretty scary thing to do when, like me, you’re as green as the Grinch in your thinking styles. In my head, quite a lot of green stuff churns around, especially the ‘approval’ slice of the pizza, and so of course I was anxious for ‘approval’ from others in how they experience me as a leader in our organisation. To my relief, and curiosity, my feedback from others shows me that whilst I may be ‘thinking  Grinch green’, I am ‘behaving blue’, and in particular, my ‘humanistic encouraging’ behaviour, which is about supporting others to develop and be the best that they can be, is my Constructive, people focused primary style . I also noticed in my results that there is still some white at the top of each blue ‘slice’ – so lots of opportunity to be even more blue than I am currently felt to be by others. So, I am currently wondering, and exploring how to let go of some of my passive aggressive Grinch thinking, and fully embrace the blueness that others see in me – and that feels really good in the moment, not scary at all!

Wendy Copeland: I thought I knew myself pretty well, I was confident that I would have lots of ‘blue’ and that’s what others would see when I was interacting with them.

However I was kinda gutted to see that my primary style was a pesky green. I had the approval slice of pizza! So what did that mean for me? It means I had have a tendency to agree with everyone, I like to be accepted and get upset if I am not, and I can be generous to a fault.

My second slice is Affliliative, I like to cooperate, include others and am I am friendly.

So what… what have I learnt about myself? Through reflection and coaching, I have learnt that I am a people pleaser; however I have not accepted that I always need to be like this. I am working on learning to think and act for myself, and accept that not everything I do will be met with ‘jazz hand’ approval. I am practising facing confrontation and recently handled a challenging situation as a mindful adult rather than the petulant child. I am a work in progress however already I am feeling less stressed and a belief that my view matters.

Oh and I am pleased to report that others see lots of Constructive Blue behaviours.

Wendy Copeland is Service Manager for Nithsdale in Partnership



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