New Series: Conscious Culture

If you lead people, intentionality on both the spoken and hidden rules of engagement and interaction models is not optional.

Your life and work always moves toward what you think about most.  The things we put little effort into changing tend to stay the same or degrade.  Seems we frequently expect people with different standards, different values, and different goals to just “figure it out”.  This rarely is a strategy for success. 

This series will provide very simple questions meant to (re)spark awareness of nuances that may not always be top of mind but can help close the gap in organizational culture between an engaged or a disengaged employee.

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Mitigating expectations in vision

Yesterday, I shared an observation about a leader answering a question and not hearing the major concern that was implied in the question.  This was likely because the leader saw a vision and did not want to lose focus.

Leaders sometimes see a vision that the rest of the organization may not yet see.  Being aware of this provides opportunity to mitigate issues that arise from different expectations.  Enlist advocates of the vision to help the organization move forward. Encourage these advocates to listen to feedback from the organization and work to provide guidance.  

Building Trust

How do you foster trust?

  • Own your contribution to an issue / mistake.
  • Do what you are responsible for as best as you can.
  • Acknowledge and leverage the strengths of those you work with.
  • When issues arise / mistakes happen and are acknowledged, course correct.
  • When unsure about something said or done by another person, go to them first to discuss (being curious without blaming can be very effective).
  • Hire leaders who possess and know how to identify high integrity in others / Do not accept leaders who break integrity.
  • Be truthful (this does not mean “brutally honest” but delivering and communicating with “accuracy and rightness”).

Destroying Trust

Here are a few ways that trust can be eroded:

  • Sugar coating information.
  • Discounting skills and talents of those you work with.
  • Blaming others when something does not go as planned.
  • Speaking negatively about others when they are not around.
  • Keeping pertinent information to oneself vs. sharing broadly.
  • Breaking commitments without early and clear explanations. 
  • Making presumptions about others without sincerely listening to them.
  • Being focused on winning at all costs / being determined to get even with someone.
  • Not recognizing when you are excluding someone / justifying when you exclude someone.

Which is first: Trust or Conflict

In the book Five Dysfunctions of a Team Patrick Lencioni presents five principles that provide the foundation for a functional team.  His first component of dysfunctional teams is “absence of trust”. His second is “fear of conflict”.

I agree that these two elements are required foundational elements for a team to be productive.  I also believe that these two elements are so closely intertwined that one cannot necessarily be clearly placed in front of the other: 

In order to trust each other, teams much feel comfortable engaging in disagreements and conflict; In order to engage in disagreements and conflict, teams must trust each other.

In the next couple posts, we’ll look at some very specific examples on how trust can be broken as well as ways to build trust.

Dog fights at work

A little over ten years ago, there were headlines covering an NFL player’s indictment on charges of dog fighting and brutality.  There was righteous outrage across the country (as there should have been).

Too often the policies and procedures we use to measure and evaluate our people enable a form of “dog fights” at work. Physical violence isn’t the symptom, but behaviors such as favoritism and political maneuvering are the symptoms and result in:

·      Promotions of people who are not qualified and who treat others badly

·      Bonuses being awarded to those who have not fully earned them, while those who have worked very hard getting overlooked

·      Credit being taken by people without fully acknowledging those who contributed

These (and other) actions are difficult to stop and are actually encouraged as a way to survive at work.  The first step to correcting the policies and procedures is to recognize that these behaviors exists and determine if we want to do better.  It shouldn’t take us as leaders being a causality before we are willing to speak up.