Workplace (mis)behaviour has been in the spotlight in the last few years. Unfortunately, there’s been too much news of unmet standards, instances of discrimination and abuses of power. We were tasked not only to counter challenges but to embed positive cultural change within the City of Greater Dandenong.
The focus on workplace culture and behaviour has provided an opportunity for organisations, especially those in local government, to take culture and conduct seriously. Many now recognise that how people treat each other and the attitudes that underpin workplace interactions can’t be ‘fixed’ by training that demonises or shames people into compliance. If employers want respectful workplaces where attitude and actions continue to evolve, then mutual respect needs to be the bedrock of any approach to culture change and growth.
That’s where our work with the team at the City of Greater Dandenong comes in. Throughout 2021 and 2022, Polykala was engaged by Nicole Josef to custom-design and deliver an innovative, values-led, culture and conduct training program, to all staff. Yes, all 900+ staff, from the CEO to school-crossing supervisors, across 50+ sessions, led by Tom Henderson and Lina Patel. It has been a huge effort from the entire CGD team to make this happen. Together, we called it, ‘Living Our REACH Values: Conversations on Workplace Behaviour’.
Polykala believes that actions change when attitudes shift but that can only happen when real conversations take place that make room for diverse views and distinct learning styles.
We started at the top (which is unusual in this space) by working with the senior executives of the council and the Learning and Development teams. Our senior managers and Executive sessions introduced elements of Adaptive Leadership to equip senior figures with a shared outlook on systemic change and its link with conduct. The subsequent roll-out took place in over 45, 2.5-hour sessions, including library staff, engineers, healthcare workers, planners, depot staff, in-home carers and school crossing supervisors.
Reaching so many different types of people from vastly different backgrounds and professional experiences tested our delivery team and stretched us into new learnings. It was at times very demanding, especially the 7am starts for the depot sessions but we saw changes take place in the 2-hours we had with a group: arms uncrossed, eyebrows lifted and people genuinely listening to divergent experiences. Values are only as good as they are in practice.
We’re proud to have supported the City of Greater Dandenong achieve their ambitious objective of investing in their people and shifting the conversation around workplace culture and conduct. Enabling organisations to culture shift is Polykala’s purpose. Here, we truly lived that mission.
“City of Greater Dandenong engaged with Polykala to deliver training to staff across the organisation with the goal of positive culture change. Polykala have spent extensive time with us developing a bespoke program that is so much more than ‘training’. They run workshops that engage our staff, develop new language and capabilities in workplace relationships. We have also been working with Polykala to develop further materials for post-workshops to continue the messaging.”Nicole Josef – Team Leader, Organisational Development, City of Greater Dandenong
Imagery sourced from City of Greater Dandenong, 2023