Eight years ago on a snowy day, I met with Nancy, a director of a government agency. Driving to the meeting, I received a phone call from Tonya, Nancy’s administrative assistant. Tonya wanted to let me know that it would not be an easy meeting. Three change management consultants like myself had already met with Nancy and she didn’t like any of them.
Interesting, I thought. I had no idea what to do with this information. Should I recite a list of my credentials? Turn around? Stop and pick up a shield and armor and slip it in my briefcase? Where do they sell shields and armor locally?
When I arrived, Nancy was quite considerate and provided an avalanche of background. She talked about low motivation, lack of trust, and lack of vision.
When Nancy finished, I asked, “How are you contributing to these problems and this culture?” Nancy sat back, looked at me with curiosity and said in earnest, “I don’t know.” A few seconds later she added, “No one has ever asked me that.”
Then she repeated under her breath, “No one has ever asked me that.”
We are all co-creators in every situation we are in. When we receive criticism, we have either done something to show arrogance or spend too much time with critics. When we receive anger, we have either done something provocative or we allow anger to whirl around unchecked. When we receive ongoing anger or criticism, we must ask ourselves, “How and when will I change my environment (the people I spend time with), or will I change my reaction?”
When people are kind and respectful of us, it is because we project kindness and self-respect.
What situations do you co-create both at home and at work?
I met with a manager yesterday and she relentlessly told me all the things her department “should” be doing. Frustration and anger were oozing out of her. I had to wonder how all these “shoulds” were manifesting themselves when she spoke to her employees:
You should get here on time.
You should have proofread more carefully.
You should have done more research.
And “should” turned inward is also a big problem:
I should eat less sugar.
I should clean the office.
I should save more money.
Some ways we can change our self-talk which will in turn change how we speak to others are:
I eat healthy foods most of the time.
I organize my office a little bit every day.
I cut out the afternoon Starbucks to save money.
Talking in positive, concrete actions is helpful self-talk. And once we are kind to ourselves, we can be kind to others. For example:
Would a change in your morning routine be helpful?
Would an additional proofreader make sense?
Have you considered doing more research?
Your self-talk is ALWAYS on and ALWAYS with you. I hope yours is an encouraging voice, “You got this.” “Way to go.” “I’m on fire!”
Tell yourself kind and supportive things. Over and over again. If you aren’t nice to you, how do you think you come across to others?
If we know culture is the most important part of any successful business, what is your organization doing to create a positive and healthy culture?
How much is your company spending on creating the culture they want? What are they spending in time? In money? In thought? In discussion?
Saying that culture is important without purposefully investing in it is like saying exercise/meditation/food is important without having an exercise plan, a meditation practice, or a sensible diet in place.
“’Culture eats strategy for breakfast’, a phrase originated by Peter Drucker and made famous by Mark Fields, President at Ford, is an absolute reality! Any company disconnecting the two are putting their success at risk. . . . Organizational culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so don’t leave it unattended.”(source: https://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/culture/organisational-culture-eats-strategy-for-breakfast-lunch-and-dinner/)
If your company isn’t creating the culture it aspires to, the culture will create itself, and it’s likely not to be too healthy.
What is your organization doing to improve its culture?