Your GPS Broke…Better Have a Map

You understand what a current culture requires from values to habits. You know those Darth Vader less-effective behaviors you’re challenged with ‘to stop’ or ‘do less of’. Here we take an insiders look at a preferred culture. Once our initial assessment is concluded, we debrief with you and discuss the options in front of you. In a recent example, we see a company who wants to emphasize a Create and Collaborate culture (Read more here). Once we dig beneath the surface to access the deeper needs during our workshop dialog, the client decides ‘perhaps we need to adjust’ from the preferred culture the survey results uncover because they realize they may need to be a more Competetive culture to become successful.

What would you do if  failure wasn’t an option?

When there’s a mix of a Compete and Collaborate Culture, which one will dominate the preferred culture outcome? A Compete culture focuses on results, making choices, and getting things done. A Create culture values learning, remaining flexible and being entrepreneurial, proactive and innovative. What they currently live with is a culture that’s kept them fixated on people, procedures, and processes. Every engagement is unique and must be personalized to your unique situation presently as well as the potential future.

What do you think they should do next?

What they’re really saying, based on the assessment and workshop dialog, is we want to keep our ‘social capital’ – the loyalty, the bonding, the kindness of helping each other. Here, there are pockets of people working in the same silo. These characteristics (behaviors and habits may extend towards the whole business unit. They want to become more ‘grown up’ by adding a focus on results, feedback, and learning. Once we began working in small groups, we then shared the results with the entire room so they could experience for themselves, ‘hey, I’m not the only one experiencing this or feeling this way’. Together, we identified new behaviors that would result in a simple, powerful and practical way, different from ‘what we’ve been doing’, if everyone did them.

What’s Really New. During the workshop, their social sharing, they agreed on these beliefs and behaviors that would emphasize elements of their Compete and Create culture types:

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We will focus on ‘being and doing’ habits by measuring results and actions.

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We will reduce the number of reports and meetings, and ask powerful questions.

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We will measure the quantity and quality of our results.

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We will consistently ask our clients for what they need ‘next’ and be forward looking.

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We will focus on how we individually contribute to the strategy to stay on priority.

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These new habits of ‘being and doing’ and their associated behaviors aren’t implemented overnight. They represent a detailed version of WHAT to change specifically. The How-to is yet to be solved as this project is in its infancy. However, the fact that nearly thirty impassioned people agreed on these commitments is a great next step.

The Journey of How to Change. The HOW is different for each organization, and your How-to will be different, also. Top executives often like the outcome of their assessment and workshop steps, and their expectation is, as the expert, to ‘fix our culture’ gap. We accept that role and responsibility as well as understand YOU are a critical piece in the next steps – this is where the real work begins:

Discover what the specific details are that will make a difference in your situation.

Many executives wonder why we talk about ‘Small Groups’ yet bring in 20-30 people. We want you to see by including and engaging this number, you’re not simply hearing one-of situations in your business – they’re prevalent. Why? Because you must work at a higher level daily. Even the CEO’s we engage have a clear idea, she or he can’t order the others to change. Just like you or I cannot make people trust us. You must walk it everyday.

If you want people to own the change and change ‘what’s not working’ – the crucial behaviors – then you cannot skip this work of developing the roadmap together…remember your GPS needs repair. Next, traveling together in the actual territory of your organization is how we help you build sustainable change. No textbook can help you here. and no generic advice will ever fit your journey. This is the art of application.

Our Change Circles of 8-10 people are small enough to foster real honest dialogue. They take the time to solve problems with viable solutions to obstacles that prohibit excellence in your organization. They take the time to reflect on objections, the opportunity for more information and to learn, to create commitment because ‘there’s-no-place-to-hide’ in a small group. When you don’t agree, your coworkers will notice. There’s no hiding in the back of a large hall and criticizing the sage on the stage. The group IS the stage, and everyone IS talking with everyone else.

One of our earlier articles, we uncover potential leaders you’re not even aware of. Not only are we guiding you through a needed culture shift, we’re helping you identify and create a new pipeline of future leaders. A skilled group leader will facilitate more fluid dialog and perpetuate the internal network that truly is how your organization behaves. When a Change Circle works well, ‘The Ten’ will know more than one and being to replicate solutions to the ‘how-to-change puzzle’ all while removing obstacles, solving problems, and influencing people’s objections. Together, they are also changing beliefs and gaining commitment from each other and begin to believe in the change.

How To Continue Change in Your Laboratory. What ONE dynamic would have the biggest leverage to change in your situation? As busy professionals, can your people sustain such initiatives and do all of the new behaviors listed above? Alone? Probably not. What worked is together, they decided to work on one personal behavior first. That behavior turned into a positive, healthy habit and created synergy throughout each department and their adjacencies.

This client’s executive group decided to look at their own management roles and change their leadership style – to adapt, to overcome what wasn’t working to what facilitated consistent growth and high-performance for their people. Employees said they wanted more ‘space or breathing room’ and less micromanagement. They had to attend too many meetings and repeatedly explain many details ‘in the weeds’ to their bosses. Leaders took this as their first homework. By the end of this workshop, everyone made a public statement:

…as of tomorrow, [THIS] is what I will do.

They were held accountable for their commitment. Everyone chose a ‘buddy’. They checked-in with each other weekly to sustain progress, support each other and solve any blockages. The wisdom that evolved is they wanted to practice feedback and grow their communication with each other as well. They could then get together in one of the small Change Circles to coordinate and continue their personal and groups change efforts. Together, the employee population supports one another to take ownership once they agree to their ‘what and how’ of change. By establishing and building trust together, people change the way they do things around here.

Now you see the velocity and viscosity of change that’s to your advantage! People copy what works. When they practice and support the new behaviors , they do what they agreed on. When there’s trust, they have one another’s back. More importantly, when the daily pressures, stress and shit hits the fan they persist and persevere even when it’s tempting to go back to old routines.

Your New Normal. Our client decided to focus on giving and receiving feedback as their key behavior that would make the biggest impact when enough people did it. They invited their clients into their facility – an informal focus group – and asked for sincere feedback. That’s a big step because it could invite confrontation. It became the right motivation to improve satisfaction and to understand their own client’s perspective. They continue to practice being open to feedback and to change a few more things.

Some individuals showed new, more assertive behaviors. One staff member didn’t accept the fact that they didn’t get an answer to a request. They’d been phoning and emailing. This coworker from another unit was out of the office and had earlier promised to get back to them several times and never did. During the unit’s regular meeting, the staff member came in the room and asked for an answer, “I’m sorry for interrupting you, but I want you to know I can’t proceed without your response. My understanding was we agreed several weeks ago we would be timely and keep our commitments as professionals.” Conflict can be a good thing and so is purposeful feedback.

While the staff member bent the implied rule of appreciating the other person’s space, allowing coworkers to hide in their cubicle or avoid all conflict is not an acceptable behavior to continue or tolerate. They discussed what happened like adults. The others reluctantly admitted this could be new, professional behavior.

You’re witnessing the new normal of an acceptable level of behavior.

No procrastination and no hoarding of information. When you don’t agree with a request or it can’t be done, then tell them. Give feedback NOW. Not responding is a response and it is unacceptable and unprofessional. This is not how we do things around here. This employee became an example and a senior manager publicly applauded the new behavior. Was the interrupting of a meeting confrontational? Sure. And, the professional behavior of being assertive in a polite way, giving and receiving feedback and responding promptly was appropriate.

“Every employee represents [us], committed to the work and their coworkers. We have one common goal: to build an inspiring group of empowered people where we serve the needs of our customers, clients and partners so our logistics community will thrive,” said the CEO several months after their initial workshop. They’ve taken ownership for serving their constituency and for representing a gold standard of knowledge creation and efficient operations that influences their multi-billion dollar industry.

Significant Takeaways

Problems are no longer thrown over the transom from one office to the next. They have become visible and more outspoken. There’s no placde to hide! They respectfully say what they need, what they can or cannot deliver and how things could be improved.

Feedback is a two-way dialog now. Moving from negative personal attacks to factual information on how to improve behaviors and outcomes. They are professionals who are serving other professionals – willing to learn, sharing problems and solutions.

Engineers and Operators are mature professionals. They don’t play the blame game, but ask powerful questions on what can I do about this, how can I have more influence, etc. They are action-oriented, autonomous and are accountable for their actions. “Anticipating issues and proactively preventing problems is now a source of pride here,” said the COO in a small group recently.

The newest employee doesn’t exist anymore in a vacuum of isloation. It’s a collective effort to create a culture where we create an ideal operator will thrive. It’s still a work-in-progress. Choosing to give and receive feedback as a key behavior to change, proved to be a wise decision. While it is not everyone’s favorite ‘next step’, it’s being embraced as the normal, the right and professional thing to do. More people are becoming more comfortable in using feedback to improve their work.

What is an ideal behavior that you’d like to be ‘normal’ in your workplace but currently isn’t?

How could you start to embody or role model this behavior?

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