Tell Me One Thing I Don’t Want To Hear
Workplace culture is a phrase that gets bandied around. Small workplaces probably don’t have the time to think about it or consciously and proactively affect it. They’re the same workplaces that roll their eyes at terms like ‘proactively’ and, most of the time, fair enough. They’re rightly more focused on getting things made or services provided and getting paid. Large workplaces spend lots of time, money and effort to mold their people and processes into something they’ve benchmarked against that’s supposed to be productive, or support engagement or blerby blerdy whoop.
I think workplace culture is a real thing not just a passing buzzphrase. It might’ve been called different things over the years and might be called something different in two years. Sports, music and other analogies abound. The recent NBA finals went 7 games and whichever team was going to win it would’ve inspired articles abound team culture or chemistry or locker room morale. New Zealand’s All Blacks rugby team is the winningiest longterm team in the world ever. (Evidence neither cited nor provided, neither am I sure on the word ‘winningiest’). The current coach is in his 5th year and has a winning percentage in the mid 90s. That includes winning a world cup so these numbers are not generally inflated by playing bunnies. All these teams place a huge credit on team culture by selecting the right people, putting ongoing effort into helping them fit, focusing on shared goals and managing consequences when things go well or poorly.
To me, wandering in and out of organisations as an outsider, the thing done least well in both small and large workplaces in that consequences thing. A real test of how good a leader is, or how effective a workplace culture is, is what happens when something goes wrong. All talk of inclusiveness and learning from our mistakes gets put to the test when a client is lost or an expensive failure strikes.
Rather than wait until you get put to the true test, how about a pre test – a litmus test if you will? A means by which you can gauge the temperature of your team or organisation as to how much of a non-blaming culture you really have. I like this article’s suggestion. At meetings, or away from meetings, or indeed, away from work entirely, try asking: “Tell me one thing you think I don’t want to hear…”?
Think about what that implies and how you reckon it might go at your work. Then think about how it should go, how it would go if you really had an effective workplace culture, that has accountability and responsibility without the base and non-productive human instinct to blame.