Culture isn’t a HR function, it comes from the top

MYTH – Workplace culture is a HR function ⁠
FACT – Culture is built from the top, from your leaders⁠

Let’s bust that myth right here.

Think about the worst behaviour your leaders are willing to let slide – thats the benchmark for your workplace culture⁠.

HR can advise, coach and monitor, but ultimately the leadership at all levels builds the culture of teams and the organisation overall⁠.

Right before Christmas I viewed a Reel from a HR consultant based in the UK. The basic premise was a client had an employee attend work intoxicated after attending the work Christmas party the night before, what the ensuing discussion failed to consider was the impact of letting that behaviour slide on the organisations culture.

Check out our thoughts below.

There are 2 core areas we need to unpack – the manager who ignores and the manager who perpetuates.

The manager who ignores poor behaviour

We see this a lot and it happens for a variety of reasons. Avoidance of tough conversations, the employee means a lot to the organisation (ie: $$), lack of leadership development, apathy, skills shortages and not wanting to risk losing people.

The reality?

Well the reality is the longer you avoid the conversation the harder it’s going to be when it finally takes place.

The more you make concessions for higher revenue earners & specialised skill sets the more turnover you will have in positions around them.

And the longer you leave your leaders languishing without adequate coaching the longer it takes to rewind cultural issues.

The manager who perpetuates

Where to start – I’m going to put some scenarios out there and you tell me how many you’ve come across.

❌ The manager who blatantly flouts workplace policies ie: the organisation has a strict zero tolerance to alcohol and drugs but they frequently hop in the work vehicle after a few bevvies

❌ The manager who picks and chooses which policies they will follow ie: inconsistent application of policies based on which employees are involved.

❌ The manager who condones and / or participates in unacceptable behaviours ie: conversations about people personal lives, pranking or hazing of employees. Excluding members of the team.

❌ The manager who takes little accountability for issues within their team

The impact to the workplace

Back in 2020 when we wrote THIS post on leadership, Kylie McLerie of Collective Culture Consultancy told us:

“Leadership is, or should be, a people based exercise. Effective leaders are always remembered for how they made people feel valued and part of the big picture, not simply a cog in the wheel.”

Kylie McLerie states the ability to be a great leader comes from the ability to “be the standard that you expect. If it isn’t modelled from the top then it won’t be part of the culture”

An organisations culture is the standard it accepts, not the standard it expects. If a leader can’t emulate the right behaviours then why should your employees?

If a leader in your organisation thinks is kosher to not follow policies and procedures; lead by intimidation and fear; not communicate; speak poorly of clients, employees and / or people from minority groups; withhold relevant information from employees, then guess what?

Your employees will think that it’s ok to act that way as well

Through impactful HR we create a positive employee experience every time.

We aim to create future-focused, people centred HR solutions to accelerate organisational and employee wellbeing, engagement and performance by making HR easy.


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