No matter what role you hold in the formal hierarchy, you can contribute to building the culture you want. That’s true for your team, your organization, and even inside your own head. At the heart of it are the conversations you have. When you can strike a positive, curious tone, you build energy and momentum to meet your goals. Watch the video below or the blog post that follows to learn more.
This past week I had an experience in contrast that got me thinking about organizational culture.
I like to talk with other coaches, so we can learn together. Sometimes we talk about approaches we use to help our clients get results or deal with challenging situations. Other times we talk about the business side – how we market our businesses so that people who need help can find us.
A lot is changing in the coaching industry right now. There are a zillion people now calling themselves coaches. Some have extensive experience and great qualifications. Others don’t. Standing out from the crowd is really difficult.
Different members of my community are responding to that situation in different ways. The conversations I had last week really illustrated that.
Some of the people I talked to are feeling really frustrated. They’re trying various marketing methods, some of which are quite expensive, and not seeing results. They’re cranky. They feel helpless. Our conversations were full of complaining and irritation. I walked away feeling bummed, low energy, helpless. It was hard to get back to work after those conversations.
Then, I had a conversation that was in complete contrast. This group of coaches is facing the same challenges and experiencing the same struggles. But this call had an entirely different tone. In this one, we focused on our clients. We talked about the people we’re already working with and how much it means to us that they’re successful. We celebrated their successes. In the face of those wins, all the efforts we’re putting into marketing seem worth it. So many people are struggling at work right now. Managers are facing overwhelming pressure– from the ongoing pandemic, the economic situation, social pressures, and so on. We want to be there for them. We want to guide them through these tough times, using the skills and tools we’ve spent years developing. We know we can help. Given that, we’ll do whatever it takes to get our marketing to work because we want potential clients to know that we are here to support them.
Needless to say, I walked away from that conversation feeling completely energized and inspired.
That contrast was a stark reminder to me about the power of culture. Culture gets talked about like an amorphous “thing” that leaders need to pay attention to. But the reality is that culture isn’t built top-down. Leaders can influence it, but it’s not theirs alone to create. It’s something that evolves, conversation by conversation, in the day-to-day work of the team. It’s the attitude people bring to challenging situations. Do they become helpless, or get creative? It’s the tone as people talk to one another. Are they blameful and critical, or focused on problem-solving together? It’s about where people put their focus. Do they dwell on what’s not working, or connect to their broader purpose, like, in my case, the clients I’m meant to serve?
Culture matters. It has a huge impact on the energy people bring to their work. As I experienced from those calls – when the “culture” of the groups I spoke with was downtrodden, it was harder for me to do what needed to be done. On the other hand, in a group focused on our shared mission, I got fired up. That conversation led directly to the video version of this blog and a few more activities that happened effortlessly that afternoon.
The best part? Because culture is created in the day-to-day, you have an opportunity to influence it. You can shape the culture of your team, and even your organization, by how you choose to show up in your everyday conversations. You can decide how you’ll talk to people around you at work. You can make a point of recognizing someone who’s done good work. You can invite a group to celebrate their successes. You can steer a conversation toward the ultimate purpose or outcome of the work. You can share your excitement. You can ask others what possibilities they see that excite them. You can listen. If someone in your workplace is upset, you can lend an empathetic ear, and then, rather than piling on with your own complaints, see if they’re ready to shift into problem-solving.
All of these will contribute toward building the kind of team and organizations that encourage people to do their best, where people want to stay.
One last thought. We think a lot about the culture of a team or the culture of an organization, but as individuals, we also have our own “internal” culture. That’s the tone we set inside our own minds, relating to what we focus on and how we think about it. Paying attention to building energizing and productive conversations in your own mind can have a huge impact on your success. It affects how you do your work, as well as how you relate to others.
These are things that I work on with my clients to help them feel more productive and more confident, build great teams, and earn the kind of recognition that moves them up in their careers.
If you’re curious to learn more, feel free to book a call with my team. You’ll get on the phone for about 45 minutes and talk about where you are now and where you want to go in your career. And if we can help you get from here to there, we’ll let you know what that would look like and come up with a custom plan for you. Book that call now at https://www.zmcoach.com/apply. We look forward to talking to you.