Sarah is an ambitious project designer and organizational developer, with strong values and a deep commitment to understanding and serving her teams. Her varied and international experience, whether in HR departments or within associations promoting citizen emancipation, make her an inspiring and independent person who enriches our projects both humanely and professionally. Sarah is an InspiringPeople Associate. We enjoy working on projects together whenever possible.
Why are you passionate about Organizational Culture Transformation?
I have always been interested in politics, society but also psychology and neuroscience. I find it fascinating to see how people behave, use their consciousness, take decisions and how they organize themselves in certain structures. That was also the reason for me to study politics and organizational sociology. What we can see is that most people form groups and collaborate in organizations. An organization is useful to pursue a common goal and give a group a structure and frame to work together, grow together. Unfortunately, we can see that organizations not always benefit people, but often they have the opposite effect. Many organizations are a place of anxiety, stress and frustration. Of course, there are other examples where people shine, have fun together and grow. Considering that, I feel we should help to build organizations that support our strengths and that help us grow.
What is important to take into account in any Culture Transformation?
Well, what is culture? It is the environment in which people work and the values and behaviors that help them to collaborate. Culture has two sides, which makes it really interesting and challenging at the same time. On the one hand, it should reflect what the organization and the strategy need in order to be successful. For example, start-ups need speed and flexibility, embassies need diplomacy and long-term thinking. On the other hand, culture needs to reflect the values and individual beliefs of the employees. Finding the balance between strategy and individual needs is key in any Culture Transformation. I believe it is essential to bring both perspectives together and create mutual understanding.
The second important thing to take into account is that culture is not only values and behaviors, but also structures. How are decisions being taken, (how) is performance being assessed, how are salaries being set, how people are hired, … ? All those structures and processes must be coherent with the culture. People need this coherence to act and find meaning in what they do.
Last but not least, what is also important in cultural transformations, it should be as concrete and understandable as possible to give orientation, instead of creating confusion.
How did Culture influence you as a person?
Since I am French living in Germany for 8 years now, cultural topics are part of my daily life. I am married to a German, I thus live in French and German families, have French and German friends, and a French and German working environment. Even though, there is a strong cultural friendship, German and French cultures are very different. And I perceive a lot of prejudices and misunderstandings. I navigate between both every day, try to understand, bring people together, explain the differences. And I always remind myself that there is not one single way to do and see things, no right or wrong in culture. You always need to have a good understanding of the context and people interacting. And bring a lot of patience.
What is your golden rule after a year of Home Office?
For me, it is important to create routines that help me to feel good in my workday and have some time for myself, in order to stay focused and healthy. For example, yoga or meditation every morning, or breathing exercises during the day. When you are the entire day in Zoom meetings, virtual discussions, social media and e-mails, don’t go to the office to meet people and have some “natural” breaks, it is key to actively create them at home. I realized that when I don’t do it, I don’t feel good. I want to keep using that knowledge also in the future, regardless of where I work. Also, it helps so much to meet people personally. Not necessarily in real life, but on a personal level, not just work or meeting related. Online, we often forget to go on that level, because we jump from meeting to meeting. But it is really important.
Which song gets you to dance?
Systema Solar - Yo Voy Ganao!