A healthy corporate culture must ultimately be owned and championed by the CEO and his or her management team. At the same time, a corporate culture livesand breathes by the actions front-line employees take every day. In our 20 years work to define and heal ailing corporate cultures, we’ve learned small changes can transform any
Great cultures are built at the level of project teams and employees. Some people are born to catalyze positive action, and don’t see position or title in their organization as a hindrance. Ghandi’s wisdom “Be the change you want to see in the world” is accurate: The best way to make change is to be it.
Here are four roles any employee can play to foster a healthier corporate culture:
1) Truth Warrior. The truth builds trust. The willingness to seek and speak the truth without drama, blame or judgment gains respect. It cuts through the fog of fuzzy thinking. We avoid truth because we avoid conflict. This classic article “The Joy of Conflict” from Inc says it well. A business exists to win—culture is about how you play the game to win. Are you a good player? Culture change can happen in any part of the company when one person stands up for the truth. The truth can take the form of a simple question: “What is it we really want to accomplish right now, which will help us win?” Zero in on what’s within your control.
2) People Champion. “Us versus them” is a common de-railer of success in business. Eradicate negative speak about others. We learned of a culture change in a 300-person department, led by one person who repeatedly asked ONE question whenever the team complained about others: “What do we think Joe (John, Mary) really intended and wanted to accomplish?” Until people gave a positive answer, he kept asking. Be the hero and gain tremendous respect. Consistently seek the positive, true intention. Even small-minded idiots and bad bosses have something positive they want to accomplish. Dig for that gold and watch the communication and spirit around you transform.
3) Priority Focuser. A friend gave me the best diet wisdom: “You can eat anything you want. Just not all at once.” This translates to the “overstuffed plates” of work teams who simultaneously juggle too many work-streams. Teams must learn to make trade-offs. Try asking: “What’s the highest payoff and most important customer for us this week?” and “How can we communicate effectively and serve the customers who we must ask to wait?” (If you don’t know who your customer is, start there. Every team has one). Yes, you can do this. (see #1). We knew of a team who charted 10 weeks of wins and started every meeting by celebrating the past week’s wins. This simple method rocketed them to the #1 software team in the organization for on-time delivery, and transformed their culture. Adopting the Scrum model from the software development team can be a highly effective method to trimming your bloated workload.
4) Voice for Balance. Winning in business requires a balance of diverse skills and flexible responses to change. Assess your organization’s balance v. imbalance in its culture to target areas in which you can improve work practices to strengthen your team’s playing strategy.
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful people can change the world.
Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. – Margaret Mead
Listen up cube warriors! You-the-willing can enable your best corporate culture. If you stay committed in spite of the onslaught of culture-hindering behaviors around you, others will soon be knocking on your door wondering “What’s happening on your team?”
And regardless, changing one “cube world” is a worthy endeavor in the pursuit of happiness at work.
This is a guest post from Lisa Jackson and Gerry Schmidt. Lisa and Gerry are corporate culture experts with proven methods to enable corporate cultures to win more, innovate faster, and care about people in an unprecedented era of rapid change and transformation.
For free tools to enable better workplace cultures visit them at http://www.corporateculturepros.com/culture-tools/ or follow them on Twitter at http://twitter.com/corporatecultur