Iowa DOT culture - you have a role

CulturepuzzleOn Oct. 21 managers, supervisors, and other informal leaders at the Iowa DOT will come together for a day-long event focused on developing their leadership skills. During the Leadership Development Conference attendees will have the opportunity to roll up their sleeves and identify issues and barriers related to leadership, strategic planning, performance management, culture, and communication and propose possible solutions to overcome barriers and become more successful as an organization in each of these five areas. 

But attendees of the conference are not the only ones responsible for improving our agency. Everyone has the ability to make improvements that help the Iowa DOT become smarter, simpler and customer driven. Even small changes in how you approach your day-to-day work can make a big impact on the way we operate as a team. The purpose of this blog is to give an introduction to each of these focus areas and suggest ways you can work to make improvements. So far we’ve explored the topics of leadership, strategic planning, and performance management. 

Today’s topic is culture.

What is it?

One of the keys to organizational health is a supportive culture. Put simply:

Culture definition

Because there are many groups in the Iowa DOT, this means there are multiple cultures within the department. Understanding those cultures and working to create supportive work cultures are key to working together. Culture is important — not only because it defines who we are, but it also impacts our ability to get work done.

The roll out of core values with the strategic plan presented a basic set of expectations upon which to create and nurture supportive work cultures. The initial core values assessment and feedback sent back through the divisions provided opportunities for conversations on current conditions as well as desired work cultures.

These core values are safety, respect, integrity, teamwork, and leadership.

Why is it important?

Mvc-007fIn a way, culture is a way of identifying who we are. Everything that happens in an organization is affected by its culture. The success or failure of efforts to address change and improve an organization will hinge on its culture.

Culture is important not only because it can define a group or organization, but it also has a huge influence on the ability of an organization to get work done. Two teams with identical responsibilities will perform differently if one culture is toxic and the other is supportive.

If you think of culture as the lubricant in which people, processes, and programs work, then a culture that is broken down will make it difficult for the parts to move and to get work done.

What can I do to improve culture?

30 over MissouriCulture is not an easy thing to change, but it’s not impossible. Simply making an effort to be more positive can have a profound impact on your environment. A good attitude not only make you feel better but can spread to others. Acceptance of others’ opinions or ideas or willingness to consider how others might perceive a situation can create an atmosphere that fosters innovation. And working under a “one team” spirit can help you see beyond your own work unit and help make choices that positively impact many people instead of just a few.

From a simple “hello” to acknowledge a co-worker to having the courage to bring a difficult issue to light, you can have a positive impact on your work environment and work to create a supportive culture simply by the way you choose to conduct yourself each work day.  

Look for more information in future blog posts about what was discussed during the Leadership Development Session.


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