Understanding and influencing organisational systems and human behaviour is integral to developing a positive culture and healthy working environment.

It has become increasingly important for all people professionals to have a good understanding of organisation culture and behaviour. Historically, we may have expected Organisation Development (OD) specialists to hold this knowledge; however, whilst OD specialists certainly have a deep understanding of this in the work they do, all people professionals need a common understanding of the way culture and behaviour impact on people practices, and vice versa.

It’s particularly important that people professionals think in a systemic way: understanding how to align the different elements of the organisation’s system (for example, the values, the culture, structures, people practices and policies) to maximise the organisation’s performance.

This area of the Profession Map encompasses the knowledge needed to understand how organisations and people behave, and includes elements such as:

  • How different leadership and people practices, along with ethical perspectives, impact on behaviour and culture.
  • How giving people a meaningful voice enables people professionals to influence behaviour, unlock potential and shape organisational culture.
  • How to enable high levels of people engagement and promote learning, and use the right approaches in different situations for individuals and teams.
  • How to develop resilience within the organisation.

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Culture and behaviour standards

Each standard progresses through four levels of impact. Which level do you most embody in your day-to-day work?

Foundation level Associate level Chartered Member level Chartered Fellow level
At this level you'll understand: At this level you'll understand: At this level you'll understand: At this level you'll understand:
Organisation culture What culture is and why it’s important What a positive culture looks and feels like Different approaches to culture development and how to align people practices to culture The impact that wider cultures have (eg country, sector)
Systems thinking That an organisation is a whole system, and that your work and actions have an impact elsewhere How people practices impact on behaviour , culture, systems and structures How to apply systemic thinking to a range of people practices How systemic approaches contribute to organisation performance
Behavioural science N/A Key theories and findings from behavioural science (eg fight-or-flight response, thinking biases) How to apply behavioural science to shape people practices and create the conditions in which people can thrive and perform How to apply behavioural science to improve organisational performance and create value for all stakeholders
Ethics What ethics is, and that your actions have consequences Different ethical perspectives and how they influence your own values and decisions Different ethical perspectives, and how different mindsets and values influence internal and external decision- making Different ethical perspectives, mindsets and values, and their implications for organisation culture
Learning approaches That people learn and develop in different ways Different ways of learning different approaches to professional development, and how to apply them in everyday situations Emerging learning trends and theories, and how they apply to the ongoing development of people Emerging learning trends and theories, and how to build learning into people strategies
Facilitation, coaching, consulting What facilitation, consulting, coaching and mentoring are Different models of facilitation, consulting, coaching and mentoring, and when to use them How to apply and adapt different models of facilitation, consulting, coaching and mentoring in a range of different situations The value of facilitation, consulting, coaching and mentoring approaches and their use in delivering the people strategy
Effective teams How to work effectively as part of a team How to develop team relationships and ways of working together to enable performance How to select and deploy the right team model (eg project, scrum, multi- disciplinary, self- organising) How to teamworking and team performance is shaped and enabled by organisation culture and environment
Enabling resilience Causes of stress and poor mental and physical health What managers can do to prevent and manage stress and develop the resilience of team members How to enable a resilient workforce and a healthy working environment How to create and sustain a resilient and healthy working culture
Employee engagement How employee engagement impacts the way people feel at work Basic theories of motivation, and the factors that affect employee engagement How to apply different engagement approaches, and the drivers and enablers of engagement How to create the right environment to engage workers, and drive organisation effectiveness through engagement
Diverse employee voices The importance of listening to a diverse range of voices Tools and methods to give a diverse range of people the opportunity to be heard The relationship between culture and voice, and how to apply tools and methods that give a diverse range of people a voice Different approaches to engaging diverse voices, and how these approaches create strategic value for people and organisations

Tools and resources to help you develop

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your learning

Use our self-assessment tool to assess yourself against any area of the Profession Map. We’ll recommend relevant learning and resources to help you create your own professional development pathway. 

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The Profession Map

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