Culture can kill a business or organisation. it happens over time like a slow stranglehold, or a boiled frog. People feel the effects but seem blinkered. No-one seems to have the courage to challenge the ritual and so it perpetuates. It’s as if a disease has taken root.
Are any of the following rituals burning money in your corporate coffers?
1. The data overload ritual.
Hidden cost to the organisation anything from £10k to £100k per meeting.
Long term cost through lack of purpose, focus and execution could be £millions.
You get to the meeting. The room is full of highly paid execs. Someone is showing a slide full of text and data, unreadable from the back. The presenter speaks over the slide. You don’t see the value in all this data, far too much to take in. The speaker speeds up in order to squeeze in all the topics - far too many items on the agenda for a quality discussion and agreement. You look around the room, others are checking email on their bberries, most are disengaged. You decide that your email is far more urgent and important than what the speaker is saying. You have heard it all before anyway. You fire up your bberry to see who has replied to your emails. There are bodies in the room but minds are elsewhere. You know this ritual will be repeated frequently.
2. The performance appraisal ritual.
Hidden cost could be millions in productivity due to lack of focus, direction and motivation.
Your boss appears uneasy about giving practical direct feedback. You have had little time to prepare. A form has been filled in and you end up with some kind of score. You were interrupted by your boss’s emails and phone calls. At the end your boss can tick this off his task list, you feel less motivated than you were before the meeting. Your boss is relieved its over. He hates 1:1 performance reviews.
3. The offsite team away-day ritual.
Hidden cost many thousands. Long term cost could be millions in low morale, lack of team cohesion, poor decision-making and leadership.
The team arrived for bacon rolls then spent the day coming up with values that you all feel are needed to make the team effective. Words like communication, respect, openness, responsibility and accountability fill the flip charts. You all agree these will be your team values. You have some games or activities to try and simulate these values, all great fun and keeps you all from falling asleep. Then you all return to work and carry on as usual, the values will be forgotten about within a few weeks time.
How do you break these rituals? First you need to be aware of them, and then you train your true champions in leading edge influencing and communication skills. Your champions are those with a little more courage and initiative than the rest, those who stand out because they do things a little differently to everyone else. They are your change agents and have the capacity to change a culture from the inside. Champions tend to go against the grain and thrive on change. Give them the skills and they will break your costly rituals and nurture purpose, direction, drive and engagement.
So, which rituals are costing your organisation money and time? Where are the sources of low motivation, drive and focus? We would love to hear about these.
Someone asked me yesterday if being cynical is the same as being critical. It motivated me to write my interpretation, drawn from my experience of working with the way people think for over 18 years.
Having an experience and forming a personal opinion about various aspects of the experience. For example a food critic, or theatre critic. They experience the meal or play and decide to write about what they liked and didn’t like. A purely personal, and valid for them, interpretation of their experience. Being critical will usually involve forming both positive with negative opinions which may often be shared with others.
Not having a direct experience, but forming a personal judgement about something from a second, or third-hand perspective. This could be from an article, something heard in conversation, a television or radio show. The recent Olympic games closing ceremony drew lots of cynical comments from people who were not there, but sat on their sofas making negative comments over twitter about what they were not experiencing. To experience it they would have had to be in the stadium. A cynic only ever makes negative judgments about an experience they are not having, and they rarely make cynical comments in person, it’s usually out of sight and earshot of their target.
Like cynical behavior, there is a negative judgment made from not having had an experience, but it is usually about whether or not something would work, or whether a particular outcome would occur. The process is to conjecture in their mind an imaginary scenario where the outcome of doing this or that is negative. This type of thinking stops people from having experiences that would enrich their lives and is a major barrier to learning. A skeptic only ever makes negative judgments about an experience they are not having, and even when they are pressured into having an experience they keep their distance and don’t fully engage in the experience.
Of course we can all display some degree of each of the above behaviours, whilst some people express their view of the world almost entirely from one or more of these standpoints.
Do you agree with me?
Do you have any alternative definitions?