What kind of workplace culture does your business have?

Can you answer that question? And if so, are you able – hand on heart – to answer “the right kind, one in which our  people are invested”?

A good workplace culture is one where your people share the organizational values and where they feel a sense of purpose in the work they do.

And a great workplace culture goes hand in hand with high levels of employee engagement.

Recently I sat down to chat to one business that know first hand that having the ‘right’ workplace culture translates into success for their business.

RBK Advisory is a small (for now – watch this space!) financial services / accounting firm that opened their doors around nine months ago.

In this short amount of time, the business has kicked so many of their goals, they would be in line for the Accountancy equivalent of the Coleman medal. * If there was one.

When I asked one of the three directors, Jonathon ‘Jono’ Kane, what he attributes their success to, his immediate answer was succinct.

“We’re fighting against bigger accounting firms. How are we going to beat them? With a better team”, Jono explained.

Jono says he and his two partners were inspired by their own previous work experiences to create the kind of workplace where it is their team that drives the RBK culture.


RBK have a number of strategies they have adopted to ensure theirs is a team driven culture, taking ques from people who have inspired them, such as Warren Rustand and Jack Daly and other leading practitioners within the Australian accounting industry.

I’ve outlined a few of those below. But I can’t tell you all of them, because as the old saying goes, if I tell you…

1. Recruit to fit

In Jono’s words,

“We recruit for cultural fit, not necessarily technical skills. Because if someone has a short fall on the technical side, we can teach them that. And sometimes that’s the best approach, and you don’t have to get rid of someone’s bad habits.”

2. Team Empowerment

RBK work hard to empower their team, and one example of this was requiring team members to submit an anonymous SWOT analysis of the business via Survey Monkey, prior to the inaugural planning day.

At the day itself, everyone discussed opportunities and threats uncovered by the analysis, and a list of 50 actionable items was developed.

The resulting to do list is shared amongst all the team, including the directors, and if the list is ticked off in total by 30 June 2018, and the $ budget met, then the reward will be a week’s sojourn on a tropical island for everyone.

3. Weekly huddles

I absolutely loved hearing about this strategy that RBK have adopted and made their own and would urge other businesses to do likewise.

As Jono explained, as RBK currently operate across 4 different locations (again – watch this space!) “We can’t keep a handle on everything, so we need the culture to be driven by the staff”.

One of the key ways this happens is through the weekly huddle, which has three components.

3.1 Ratings.

Everyone takes a turn in rating their preceding week both on a scale of 1-10, both from a personal and a professional perspective, and provides examples to explain the rating.

By sharing in this way, the whole team (including the directors) learns things about each other that they may never have otherwise discovered. And the added (and slightly unexpected) bonus is that the directors have seen this translate into the team looking out for each other.

3.2 “Opportunity or issue”.

Here the team take turns to identify any opportunities that they may have come across in the last week –my aunt needs her tax return done – or raises perceived threats – I’ve seen the mob down the street are offering fixed price tax returns, do we need to be offering this as well?

The directors believe this drives ownership, because “while we are the owners, you [the team] operate it and take care of it”.

3.3 What made you smile during the week?

What a way to finish a team meeting. When asked for an example,  Jono grinned as he told me about walking out of the iconic Hampton café Brown Cow and running into a guy who was out walking with his parrot perched happily on his shoulder.

These are just a few of the tools that RBK are utilising in their efforts to develop a great workplace culture from the ground up.

Being accountants, naturally these tools are cost effective.

And when I asked Jono how he would describe RBK’s culture? He summarized it as,

“An enviable one…where people are happy to come to work”.

If you would like to talk to us about ways to create your own inspired workplace, then reach out by emailing alison@workologyco.com.au or phoning 0400 019 599.

* The Coleman Medal is the award presented at the end of the AFL home and away season, to the person who has kicked the most goals during the season.