Having had a couple of weeks away enjoying a break I have returned refreshed to the challenge of a perplexing situation confronting an organisation I am working with currently. Right now many organisations are finding current trading conditions challenging, this company is no exception.
Despite having sound strategy, revenue has continued to head south, performance pressures continue to mount, and the organisation’s leaders and people at all levels are struggling to maintain focus and motivation. Initial thoughts turned to the culture; is this organisation’s culture resilient enough to constructively support them address performance.
Culture is something in need of attention, however in a group discussion with a number of team leaders and middle managers people were adamant that a key was the organisation’s current mindset. These are a few of the quotes people used to describe the current mindset:
- Why bother going the extra mile, no one cares
- We’re unsupported unless you are part of the “in” group
- Criticism and fault finding by our managers are things we’ve had to learn to live with
- High levels of anxiety about failing
- We’ve become so cautious, it’s like we’re afraid to act]
- Instead of working together people are trying to “out do” each other
As you can imagine, in a fast-paced ever-changing market the company is finding it challenging to collaborate, adapt, and innovate. Having read this far many will say there is an obvious leadership and cultural issue – I agree. Both need to be addressed, however the organisational mindset also needs to change. This is a ‘work in progress’ and the following are the steps being implemented concurrently to shift this organisation’s mindset:
- Appropriate Role Modelling by managers at every level is the starting point. People take their lead from those who surround them. We know for certain people think and behave differently if they see their leaders and others they respect behaving differently. Managers are currently in the process of shaping and adopting constructive behaviours to replace those that are critical and fault finding.
- Communicate, through a compelling story, a purpose that people can believe in. In recent times a great deal has been written about harnessing the power of stories in communication. Whatever is communicated has to enable people to understand what is being asked of them and it must make sense to them.
- Build the capability in people at every level to ensure they have the skills needed and the opportunities to apply this capability in ways that will contribute to shaping a new mindset.
- Ensure structures, systems and processes support the desired mindset shift. This can be challenging as it may mean major changes are required across or in some parts of the organisation, a step that causes some organisations to baulk.
- Apply the right metrics. Metrics that reinforce for people when they are doing the right things, and the positive and negative consequences of their actions are clear for all people.
It is early days so there are no concrete results to share at this point however as this project progresses I will share outcomes and learning.
Viventé Australia enables leaders and managers to create the conditions that allow their people to do their best work every day thus creating a powerful advantage: the synergy between people, leadership, management, and culture, produces performance that allows your business to achieve its outcomes