Complex sub cultures

Culture for Care:
Complex sub cultures

In every workplace, those leading the development of a positive culture should work to identify the positive and negative elements or influences within their workplace. These may be individuals or sub cultures that have the potential to support or disrupt the achievement of the organisation’s aims and objectives. Within social care settings, sub cultures may develop amongst different teams, maybe those working on night shifts, those who have different roles, or staff who are recruited from different countries or for whom English may not be their first language. Large local authorities will probably have many sub cultures as they have many teams within their social services provision. Individual employers may also find sub cultures within their team, even when they only employ several PAs. Leaders and managers will need to address the negative and build on the positive attributes of these sub cultures so that they are aligned with the organisational aims and objectives.

I am an individual employer and I have sub cultures within my team, based on the service they deliver. Whilst we all share overarching principles, those workers who help me deliver work products have developed a more systems based, structured culture than those responsible primarily for home based care.
Nina Osbourne

The manager of a busy domiciliary support service is very forward thinking and embraces assisted living technology (ALT) the culture of the service is evolutionary and tries to move with the times to provide more effective, person centred care. The service operates two different teams, one based in a very rural location and one based in a town. The manager is keen to encourage staff and people who need care and support to consider ALT as a solution to an identified need when and where appropriate.

The service has been supporting people to learn about and to use various pieces of ALT for a number of years, beginning with more low level equipment such as easy pour kettles, talking scales and remote locking devices.

As ALT improves and develops, some members of staff are realising the potential of digital technology, such as applications available for smart phones and tablets. These members of staff try to encourage wider use of these devices with those who have them. One particular member of the rural team would like to support the rest of the staff to learn how to use Skype – this could benefit some of the people they support who are more isolated. Other members of staff are reluctant to try Skype and do not feel comfortable using apps on smart phones or tablets. They insist they are ‘not very good with computers’ and this is causing frustration within one of the teams.

  • What sub cultures do you think this organisation may have?
  • How can you ensure that each sub culture shares the organisational aims and objectives and so improves the service delivered?
  • What barriers do you think there may be?

Thinking about your own workplace:

  • Can you identify any sub cultures?
  • How do they support or disrupt your organisation’s aims and objectives?
How to integrate complex sub cultures in your workplace

By developing your leaders and managers through the Leadership Qualities Framework.

The Leadership Qualities Framework is a one-stop shop for developing yourself, strengthening and differentiating you as an employer to providing better services. Culture runs through the entire Leadership Qualities Framework. The Framework is made up of seven ‘dimensions’, each of which is subdivided into four ‘elements’. For each element, there is a description of what leadership looks like at each level from front line worker to strategic leader.

For more information visit

How will it help?
Good leadership is vital to ensuring that a positive culture is developed and maintained in the workplace. The Leadership Qualities Framework is grounded in everyday practice and underpinned by personalisation. The framework helps you identify areas of improvements and gives practical support and tips for you to be able to identify and integrate different practices and cultures within your teams and workers.

Other resources to support you

Manager Induction Standards
The Manager Induction Standards (MIS) set out clearly what a new manager needs to know and understand. They are aimed at those new to management as well as those new in post who have previously managed other care services.

The Social work leadership toolkit 
The Social work leadership toolkit provides tools and resources to support the development of social workers across the experienced, advanced and strategic levels of the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF). Aspiring managers and leaders, front line managers, advanced social work practitioners and other social workers at a strategic level can be supported by the toolkit.


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