The current pandemic will change your organization’s culture. It may be better; it may be worse. It is guaranteed to be DIFFERENT.
Connors and Smith, in Change the Culture, Change the Game
argue that culture is an emergent property formed by the elements in the pyramid below.
Starting from the bottom …
Experiences people have—and how they interpret them— lead people to form beliefs. Those beliefs then drive actions which in turn, produce results. When multiple people engage in this, culture emerges.
The current coronavirus situation forces two important questions:
- What are your staff experiencing? Are they experiencing confusion or calm? Self-preservation or caring for others? Fear from their leaders or quiet confidence? Excitement or dread for working remotely?
- What beliefs are forming from their experience? Will your staff believe leaders are thoughtful? That the boss is caring? Self-serving? Unorganized? Will they believe the rank and file are easily expendable and jettisoned at the first sign of trouble? Or will they believe they were treated with respect and integrity?
As leaders, we can provide experiences to our employees. We can treat people as competent adults by practicing transparency, explaining our reasoning, sharing our doubts, including them in decision-making, and acting with compassion.
Furthermore, we can help employees interpret these messages. Because they are competent, we trust them and value their input. Because we are all adults, we know the world changes and we must be flexible. Because we value their opinion, we explain our reasoning and ask them to critique it. Staff come to believe they are capable, cared for, and that teammates—and better yet customers—deserve respect and attention. They become more engaged and better contributors.
Leaders who deliver experiences and help people interpret them shape culture. When the pandemic is over, what will your “different “culture be?
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