Have you ever wondered why, if we are essentially good people, positive culture doesn’t grow as unhindered as the beard of your barista?
Good conversations about cultural change come from an inquiry into human-ness. Such an understanding can begin with looking inward, and when we look with honesty there are some things we might notice about ourselves that influence the culture of our workplace.
- We have a habit of forming tribes, not dissolving them. It’s part of our often unconscious fascination with being right and making others wrong (he says, certain of himself!), and has us experience belonging. It takes intentional work to keep creating opportunities to relinquish our righteousness and start breaking down barriers between teams or sub teams.
- There are inevitably conversations we don’t feel ok to have. We need a great deal of skill and trust to talk about what we hear, see and feel that doesn’t sit right but that we haven’t been able to say, whether the issues are ethical, inter-personal or systemic. We don’t always have the confidence to skilfully work through such a conversation and the strong emotions it may illicit, nor are those skills always close at hand.
- We are change-averse. Changing our culture, even if the benefits are clear to us, can be a little bit like sitting on thumb tacks. Similar to our normal response to physical pain, we can opt for the slightly more comfortable option of doing nothing.
- We need to know who will catch it all if it falls. The process of moving from an unintentional workplace culture to an intentional one can seem like juggling multiple oddly-shaped objects from atop a unicycle. If we don’t have faith that someone can deal with the mess if it all falls, we won’t join the circus in the first place.
- The easy task will likely take most of our attention. We rarely, if ever, see the path of cultural change clearly or understand what it will look and feel like at each step. Something so unknown is far less enticing for the mind than getting on with the more familiar day to day tasks.
The result of these quirks of human-ness? We’ll end up with a team much like we have. Somewhere on the spectrum of ok, a few undercurrents of dissatisfaction about persons x and y, some areas of breakdown, and a sense that getting intentional about our workplace culture (how we want to be with each other) could perhaps bring interesting results.
Of course, I may be wrong and your team may be experiencing exceptional connection, communication and collaboration. I’d love to hear what’s working!! Get in touch!