Friday, 27 July 2018

Culture does not make people, people make culture

I have talked a lot about cultural change in previous blogs and we held our first cultural change steering group a couple of weeks ago which was really positive.

I am very grateful to everyone who has volunteered to be part of this journey and we had a great meeting with a mix of people from services who I feel will be key in championing this change, together with people in positions of influence such as organisational development who can help us change the way we work in support of our approach.

I really enjoyed the meeting and thought there was a real buzz in the room with insightful views and great ideas, and I’m excited about what we can achieve by working together.

Changing culture

Changing culture is sometimes a hard topic to pin down and someone in the group eloquently described culture like clouds not clocks, in that it’s more complex and ever changing than simply putting mechanical parts together.

However, there are examples that help identify the key things we need to pay attention to, in order to really impact on culture. Being clear on our vision and our values and what’s important to us, and then demonstrating that in the way we all act and behave is pretty near the top.   

Cultural audit

At the meeting we were updated on the cultural audit work that took place earlier this year. The purpose of this work was to establish a baseline of our current culture and what it’s like working in this organisation now, so that we know where to focus work on improvement and can measure whether things are improving.

The audit gathered views from across the organisation at all levels, from information we already know such as staff surveys; and also through some specific staff workshops, staff drop-ins and questionnaires.  This feedback is being considered under some important themes, including vision & values, goals and performance, support & compassion, learning & innovation, teamwork, and leadership. You told us what we are doing well, and what we need to work on.

I wanted to share the key headline findings with you, so they are now available on the intranet. Click here to view them. (Please note you have to be on a device connected to our network to view this).

We are listening

Thank you for your feedback. We are listening and this rich information will not go into a black hole. It’s already been shared with the board, together with the findings from the well-led review. But most importantly, it is starting to shape the actions that we need to take as part of our first organisational development plan, a first draft of which was shared with the Board this week.

This is an evolving plan, as cultural change won’t happen overnight. It’s definitely more of a marathon than a sprint! But we will get there together.

Values and behaviours

The cultural steering group will support the Board in overseeing our culture journey but, as importantly, they will lead a number of specific pieces of work such as the on-going development of our values and supporting behaviours framework, which will be one of the key things we start very soon.

We have some great values already that work well in defining the sort of care and relationship we want with people who use our services. But I don’t think they work so well in defining how we treat each other as colleagues and in shaping the sort of environment we would all want to work within. So watch this space for more information on how to be involved in shaping these going forwards.

The most powerful bit of cultural change happens when these values are really clear and well understood and people bring them to life through their everyday behaviour. 

In other words, culture does not make people, people make culture.

Posting comments
I know that some people have been frustrated that their comments haven’t been posted or replied to previously. Huge apologies for this, but please note going forward we will be posting comments received and I am now able to directly respond them.


  1. I must say that I am very pleased with this new ethos, where employees are being recognised as important. I like that you acknowledge that a more contented workforce is a more productive workforce. As for mental health staff to effectively work with our service users they need to feel valued as part of an organisation that cares for them.

    As a manager I feel visibility is important to the team I work in. They need to see that I am willing to do what they do and that on occasion I lead from the front. I am from a nursing background and the most influential role models I have worked with, have lead from the front and were visible. They created a culture of support and inspired others around them.

    1. I agree that management should be more visible at all levels and this inspires/encourages staff. I think a faceless management structure can breed discontent and I am also of the opinion that a happier workforce produces better outcomes.

    2. I couldn't agree more with the previous comments. Cultural change happens when enough people (and especially leaders) start acting and behaving in a way that is clearly in line with the values most people feel are important; and in doing so, set expectations for others to do the same. In other words, they are true in what they do to the things they say are important. And, if key leaders/managers aren't then visible enough in demonstrating alignment between their values and behaviours, then regardless of how well intentioned they are, it simply won't be seen or believed.

  2. Adam Ryans, Service User2 August 2018 at 13:20

    hello this is really interesting and encouraging. can I ask when the culture change programme started and how long it has been running for? and have there been any reportable improvements yet?

    1. Hi Adam

      This programme is in the very early stages and we have just completed a cultural audit hearing from staff about what it is like to work in Pennine Care; and identifying the things we think will most likely have an impact on improving this. So, we can't yet state what impact we are having, but should now have a good baseline to measure over time so hopefully can see whether what we do shapes more positive work environments. As I have said lots of times, if we get it right for staff and create a great place to work, then we will hopefully be getting it right for people who use our services.