Introducing a corporate culture ‘band of tolerance’​…

//Introducing a corporate culture ‘band of tolerance’​…

An article from our Cultural Intelligence newsletter…

We were recently having a conversation around the notion of a price-related band of tolerance. Our view is that for items we purchase there is a band of tolerance – a price range that we’ll tolerate when deciding to purchase a product or service. For most things we consider purchasing, too low a price will scare us off, as will too high a price. Everything in between then enters our price band of tolerance. Our band of tolerance might be wide or narrow, and for different items might vary.

When discussing this, it occurred to us that we’d never applied this thinking to culture. And having thought this through a little, we think it has significant application!

Most organisations have Values statements which in the majority of cases are the most visible articulation of the aspiration culture, or cultural expectations people have on one another. The question with regard to these is ‘What is the band of tolerance when it comes to people’s behaviours associated with those Values?’

We’ve worked with a number of companies over the years where safety is taken seriously and is included as one of the Values. In these cases the band of tolerance is either very, very narrow, or non-existent. That is, no matter who the player or players, when an unsafe act occurs, actions kick in instantly to address the inappropriate behaviours. In a sense, this is a no tolerance zone.

Of course, this is not the general rule when it comes to Values. It’s normally a matter of how wide is the band of tolerance. If ‘respect’ is a Value, what degrees of disrespect are tolerated? How badly does someone have to be treated before actions kick in? Indeed, do actions ever kick in?

This principle applies at a general level, but also applies across different levels of seniority. Is there a no tolerance policy with regard to respect when it comes to front line staff? And does this gradually dissipate as you progress through the levels of seniority? In other words, can senior leaders get away with anything they like without that latitude being given to lower levels of staff?

As we’ve sometimes noted, people new to an organisation are normally unconsciously assessing these behavioural patterns to form their own conclusions about the ‘way we do things around here’. That’s when UGRs begin to drive the new appointee along the same path.

Steve Simpson is an international speaker, author and consultant who works with companies across the globe to help them understand and strategically improve their corporate culture www.steve-simpson.com. Professional Speakers Australia recently bestowed the Australian Educator of the Year Award to Steve