January 31, 2018
Are you a manager or leader who is not happy with the current culture of your workplace -- struggling with your people feeling connected and committed to being productive and positive? You’re not alone!
I’m doing more and more work with “culture change” clients -- and although the work is challenging for everyone, it is GOOD and NEEDED work. Pay attention to your culture -- it’s the air we breathe at work, and you want it to be nourishing and fresh. As Peter Drucker quipped accurately, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Having a strong positive culture has enormous implications for supporting your leadership role, your people’s overall morale and commitment, and your service to your clients/customers.
Let’s dive in!
Butterflies and Icebergs:
Changing Culture Ain’t Easy!
If you’ve ever been involved in a culture change effort at work, you know how hard it can be. Even defining “culture” can be tricky -- much less understanding how to lead and manage the change effort.
(If after you read the following, you want more information and advice on culture change, please visit the Unleashed Consulting BEST BOSS YouTube Channel)
Probably the best definition of culture is simply, “how we do things around here.” It’s like water in a fishbowl -- needed and always present, but for the fish, it’s simply what they live in. And, like a fishbowl, unless someone pays attention to the water, it can quickly become cloudy, murky, and unhealthy.
The bad news may be that it is difficult -- if not impossible -- to impact culture directly. Instead it is much more effective to influence and shape culture. When you “thin-slice” the culture you want -- creating low-hanging opportunities for success -- your desired organizational culture will take shape.
So how do you pay attention to culture? How do you shift it to the place you want it -- one that is positive, supportive, and productive for you and your people?
- First, determine and define the culture you want. Do you want a more team-based, collaborative culture? Do you want a more market-based, bottom-line driven culture? If you don’t define your culture, it will define itself. LaPiana Associates warns us, “Nature abhors a vacuum, and if you do not proactively attempt to create a new culture, inevitably the vacuum will be filled with anxiety and grief at the loss of what was.”
The first priority in defining your new culture is to establish business goals that the new culture can form around. What are the metrics that each staff person can work towards in the new culture? When business successes are achieved, a strong positive culture will result.
- Think of the butterfly effect as you think through your culture change. Systems and culture resist big changes, so plan small changes throughout your organization -- those small consistent changes will make the difference -- they will thin-slice the culture change to be manageable and comfortable for everyone.
- These small changes should hit all three levels of the culture-change iceberg:
WHAT WE SEE: Above the water line -- these are the cultural “artifacts” - -what do you see in the new culture? This includes signage, dress, office setup… anything visible -- make sure all reflect and support your desired culture.
WHAT WE SAY: Right below the water line -- these are the “espoused values” of your new culture. Codify your new vision, values, and expectations -- put them in writing and distribute widely and lead conversations that explore and “bake in” the new culture.
WHAT WE KNOW: Deep below the surface -- this is the toughest level to shape and influence, but super- critical -- what are the deeply held “underlying assumptions” that people have? What are the “unwritten memos” and sacred cows? Surface the “undiscussables” in your organization and have the tough conversations. People need to be heard -- deeply and authentically -- when shifting your culture.
Organizational culture cannot be directly impacted -- but it can be shaped -- and this happens most effectively by aligning work processes behind clear business goals and metrics. When there is success in achieving these goals, strong positive organizational culture forms organically as a result of those successes. So ... do your pre-work ... think through where you want to go with your new culture ... then work the iceberg’s three levels. That’s how you change the water -- how you change the culture -- in your own fishbowl.
If you need help with shifting your culture, I hope you’ll drop me a line -- I’d love to help! Also go to the BEST BOSS YouTube Channel for more advice and information on culture change.
DANNY RECOMMENDS ...
Normally I recommend professional development resources, but these two are more personal development -- an app and a movie ...
First, the app that reminds you you’re going to die, five times a day. A WeCroak message pops up on my phone at random surprising times during the day -- it gives me quick chance to pause and consider what’s important, a reminder of mortality -- and to be mindful of being present. Highly recommended. Brilliant. (Thanks to pal, Antonio, for recommending!)
Second, a 2017 movie, Patty Cake$. I happened upon this film accidentally -- on a flight across the country -- and fell in love. It speaks to radical inclusion, hip-hop pop culture, and finding one’s own inner power and potential. It’s a BEST BOSS movie, if ever there was one. So good.
If you download the app, or watch the movie, let me know what you think!
I’d like to hold a free on-line LIVE workshop in the next couple months. It will be a powerful 90-minutes that can literally transform your life. If you’d be interested in this, reply to this email and let me know. If I get enough interest, we’ll do it!
Stuck in Neutral:
Breaking Free of Your Immunity to Change
Why are the changes that you work so hard to make in your personal and professional life often short-lived and unsuccessful? In this powerful diagnostic exercise, you will uncover and diagnose the psychological phenomena of your personal “immune system” – that set of forces that effectively maintains the gap between your hopes, intentions, decisions – and the reality of what actually occurs. You’ll go from identifying your deeply held personal commitments that shape how you live and work, to uncovering your firmly held and equally powerful competing commitments that effectively keeps you locked in your old ways. Appropriate for individuals, groups, and teams, we’ll navigate this incredible process together and discover the critical tools and insights needed to truly sustain transformation and change.
Just reply to this email and let me know if this sounds like a topic you'd love to explore!
With over 20 years experience in training and leadership development - and holding an MBA and an MA in Organizational Development - Danny Ceballos has worked with organizations across the country to strengthen their effectiveness in leading and managing others through supervision+motivation best practices and strategies.
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©2018 Danny Ceballos & Unleashed Consulting, LLC