Hiring good people is only a starting point. Then culture takes over. Put good people in a toxic environment and their qualities seem to fade.
Culture isn’t created by values posters and mission statements. Culture can be seen by observing how people interact in meetings and sensing what moods are driving their behavior. Are they openly sharing their thoughts, building on each others ideas and able to laugh with each other? OR are they cautious, orderly and emotionally disconnected? Behavior defines the culture.
For decades, researchers have been looking at how moods affect the dynamics of a work area. Where employees talk openly and informally with each other and laugh a lot, they take fewer sick days, quarrel less and stay longer with the company. On the flip side, negative group moods correlated with more stress causing more days off and decreased productivity, more conflicts and higher turnover.
What emotions define your culture?
Here are clues that the people in your group, team or organization are dancing to the same tune by choice (happily aligned):
Open, tolerant, flexible, imaginative, curious, expressive, creative, innovative, enthusiastic, open-minded, open to new experiences, honors diversity in the group.
Dominant emotions: excitement, passion, hope, and enjoyment.
Here are clues that they are nonaligned, each moving to a beat of a different drummer (disjointed):
Stubborn, close-minded, rebellious, rigid, intolerant, annoyed, calculating, decisive, aggressive or restrained depending on their view of who holds the power in the moment.
Dominant emotions: worried, belligerent, angry, suspicious, protective, wary, restless, and resolute.
Here are clues that they are dancing to someone else’s tune other than their own (conforming):
Indifferent, reliable, orderly, faithful, consistent, conventional, obedient, organized, careful, practical, methodical, reserved, concerned about the rules.
Dominant emotions: fear, confusion, apathy, cautious, and numb.
The good news is that you can change the way people dance together if you are the leader of the team. There are skills you can master such as coaching and collaborative decision-making, yet applying new skills can be a hit or miss proposition with a group that has been together for a while. It is better to first focus on changing the mood of the group instead of trying to fix them with new skills.
To build organizational coherence:
Brain Tip #1: Remember that as the leader, you set the emotional tone. Even if you are a bit stressed over thoughts of the future or a change being made, you must model the emotions you want from others.
Brain Tip #2: Weed out toxic people who bring the group down. Even if they are top performers, their effect on others hurts the overall outcome. Their good work isn’t worth the loss.
Brain Tip #3:Find out from the group what it will take to uplift their spirit. Ask them what they need to feel good about their work and the organization. Ask them to recall situations in the past that stirred positive emotions. Discover what led to them feeling:
- Enthusiastic about the future
- Delight in discovering something new with others
- Triumph when overcoming a setback
- Pride for the group and the mission
- Gratitude for their situation
- Care about the people they work with
- Excited about getting up and going to work
Can you use this information to create successful, productive environment?
Brain Tip #4: Create new music and use many channels to deliver it. Robert Jones wrote about how Laura Miller of Coca-Cola made sure this happened during a recent corporate merger. She helped to orchestrate a strategy that would inspire optimism and promote happiness internally during the massive change process. First, the senior leaders committed to sharing their vision locally and broadly with road shows, daily huddles, leadership blogs that included comments, employee portals for interaction, mobile messaging and digital signage from every plant. Second, they ramped up training and development to show they still cared no matter what was going on. Third, they increased rewards and recognition, including widespread “sharing happiness” celebrations. Fourth, they maintained their corporate citizenship programs to sustain community pride in the workforce. Six months after the merger, the quarterly earnings reflected a huge success.
John F. Kennedy said, “I’m certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we too will be remembered not by our victories and defeats, but by our contribution to the human spirit.” How are you uplifting the spirit of your organization? Play the right music and the dance will be joyful as well as harmonious.
Contact Marcia to help get your team dancing to the same upbeat music as soon as possible.