One of my favorite workplace culture definitions comes from toolbox.com. This HR organization defines workplace culture as:
“……the cumulative effect that leadership practices, employee behavior, workplace amenities, and organizational policies create on a worker/internal stakeholder. It can be measured as either positive or negative work culture.”
I am sure you have heard this before “it’s important that you fit in.” Whether at work or on social circles, “fitting in” and being accepted seems to be the golden carrot. Yet we hear conflicting messages all the time! The current voices in diversity, inclusion and equity are shouting from the rooftops “be your authentic self!” And yet, you still hear whispers that maybe you are too boisterous, too direct, too quiet, too emotional, too much of “you” and not enough of someone that “fits into the culture” or better yet “represents the shared values of the organization.”
It’s Saturday. What are you up to? I know, it’s still #quarantine2020 for a lot of us. Not a lot to do, see, experience…….Really? I wonder……I made a choice to invest in myself this weekend by taking a weekend long virtual conference on how to develop virtual events. I know!!! All weekend…on Zoom! I bet you are thinking, is it worth it since we are on Zoom/Skype/Virtual all week. My question to you is: are YOU WORTH IT????
Seriously. Taking time for self development should be one of the more energizing things you do. As we start getting back to the world, giving not just self care, but self development time to yourself is key to re-entering an event changing world. The key word is giving. This is a gift to yourself and its just as important that you give to you as it is to give to others.
So- What’s your self development for today? Are you trying something new? Taking a new risk? Learning something outside your comfort zone? Get to it people! no better time than the present.
I know what you are thinking “Delpha, really? Love languages at work?” Yes, really. Our use of language tends to separate how we feel about work. We use words like passion, drive, engagement, collaboration, etc. to talk about our state of being or actions at work. I would propose to you that we are human, our feelings don’t get new names when we go to work and therefore looking at work through the lenses of the 5 love languages makes sense.
If you don’t know the 5 love languages, I highly encourage you to read or audio book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It’s a great, easy read with a quiz to identify your love languages and that of your friends, significant others and family. Here is the gist of it. There are 5 love languages that humans use to express love: Acts of Service; Receiving Gifts, Quality Time, Words of Affirmation and Physical Touch. At work, these play a role in how we show appreciation or see all those work words I listed above in our co-workers, employees and associates. Here is an example:
Words of Affirmation: This is my primary love language. For me, it is most important to be told that I am valued by my employer. My employer, like many others, is an entity (yes, since humans run the company you need to assume that as a group, the company has feelings too) who’s primary love language is receiving gifts which means that when they decide on raises, bonuses, etc. they are actually using their love language to express how they value you. If your are like me you are going to look at this and say “Great! But what about my words of affirmation- can you say you like me versus showing me?” If you take a step back and acknowledge that your employer may not be a words of affirmation then it makes sense that you may not see/hear these words often but you may be shown “the love” through rewards and recognition, compensation and in ways that the company, as an entity, expresses its appreciation.
Oftentimes we intermingle our network with our Tribe. While there is value when your tribe includes people that are also part of your network you really want to focus on the composition of your network as a separate and apart sphere in your universe of influence.
So, what is a network and why is it different from your Tribe? Does it matter? To refresh on the makeup of a Tribe, visit my prior post: Your Tribe
Your network is a breathing, living thing. It ebbs, flows and changes with time. The tie to your Tribe is in those people that are your connectors. However, your Network should also include:
Advocates: People that speak up positively for you, your skills, personality, etc. when you are not in the room.
Sponsors: Those that are looking out for you. They identify opportunities for your growth and ensure you have a seat at the table.
Other Connectors: People that know people of influence that can help you get that coffee meeting, first interview, etc.
Being true to yourself is always important. But being true to yourself and being authentic are two different things. Here is how it works:
• Being true to yourself does require some level of authenticity but it leaves room for your “work self.” You know what I am talking about, the one that speaks corporate lingo, doesn’t cuss, does not generally argue aka bite your tongue, and has the plans for climbing the corporate ladder. This is being true to yourself because you are working on your goals the best way you know how but its not your overall authentic self because you have to live in the corporate politics and/or making other people happy to get to where you want to be.
• Being Authentic does not have a work self. You are you, 100% of the time and that person is comfortable with themselves in all environments including corporate culture. Here is the biggest difference. This person is aware that they may not be a fit for everyone aka not everyone likes them, and they are OK with it. More than that, they embrace it as an opportunity to also evaluate why they may not like some of those people around them.
We love to measure things. After-all, there is that saying (or some version of it) “if you didn’t measure/write it, then it didn’t happen.” So how do you measure your success?
When thinking about success, we tend to lean back into the things that others can see:
• Did I get promoted
• Did I get a raise
• Did I get recognition, Did I win
We discount the things that can be seen but we don’t generally talk about:
• With that promotion, did you get less time at work?
• With that raise, did you improve your life or spend more?
• With that recognition, did you pay it forward/give credit to your team, coworkers etc.?
We have talked about keeping your balance. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, here are several short podcasts originally shared through the Harvard Business review on mental health and work, being the "only" one and other great candid conversations from leaders on keeping the balance and getting help and support when there is none. I want to thank MaryAnn Cruz, super awesome business coach, for pointing me in this direction! It takes a village. If you would like to know MaryAnn, you can learn more at maryanncruz.co
The Anxious Achiever: Rethink Mental Health at Work with Candid Stories from Leaders Who've Been there
So, what are you doing for you today? For me, today I took some time off this AM from my work to spend the day with one of my good friends. Connecting with friends and loved ones is an awesome way to recharge and get perspective. Next up on the blog list: Let's talk about your Tribe.
While it is true that employees with some frequency change jobs, and sometimes roles within a company, to get away from a non-functioning relationship with a manager, there are times when employees leave the company culture. Company cultures have personalities, quirks and nuances that make them unique. No two are alike and like managers, sometimes the cultures are not self-aware or a good fit for high performing individuals.
Company cultures evolve, develop and change just like managers grow and develop through experiences. Company cultures, however, evolve based on what is perceived as values by employees and leaders. Sure, companies have their mission and vision to define value and goals but these values are colored by the myriad of personalities and interpretations within a company. Sometimes, the culture, as defined, is aspirational, while in action it’s a lot muddier and difficult to navigate.
It’s easy to say that people leave their managers. However, when you see a series of high performing individuals leave, you have to ask the question, is it really management or is this a symptom of our culture? This is not an easy question to ask when companies set values such as inclusive, collaborative, supportive, and innovative. In an age where diversity and inclusion are buzz words, companies really promote the positive aspects of their eco system and may turn a blind eye to other symptoms within the environment that may be reflective of unhealthy behaviors that are inadvertently supported by the culture.
Self- awareness is not something that applies to individuals, it also applies to companies. Companies, through their leadership teams, need to have a full understanding of what employees perceive the culture in action to be. Having real dialogue with employees about how they perceive the culture and being vulnerable enough to ask the tough questions: “are we really collaborative; do you feel included AND that you belong; do you think others feel like they belong; in our supportive environment, do you think you have a voice?; is there anything that gives you angst about working here?” and not discounting these as individual experiences, but really taking in the information and identifying themes will give leaders the opportunity to get a sense for how the culture, in action, is affecting employees.
So, leaders, ready to start a real dialog about company culture?
We all know what good leadership looks like. From empathy, collaboration, vision, supportive, and a myriad of other adjectives, we know what we like and what we want in our leaders. We emulate these examples. But how do we know the difference between a good leader and a fantastic, blow your socks off, you would follow them to the end of the world better leader. Here are some clues:
- Vested Interest: Good leaders are vested in the team and process. They drive success with compassion and ensure that their teams are performing optimally, sometimes saying “team first” individuals second. But better leaders put their people first, ahead of any results or even the team. A team is only as strong as its weakest link. Better leaders understand that results come from every single person. Great results happen when each individual is engaged which requires a leader to pay attention to more than the whole. Each person in a team is key.
- Focus on potential not likeability: Yes I am going to talk a little about unconscious bias. We all have it and its part of human nature. We all know we need to be more self aware, etc, etc. Good leaders tend to spend time with those who are delivering results and sometimes (and lets tell the truth) begrudgingly, with those not performing as well. I would propose to you that a better leader is spending time on each individual’s potential versus the current results. This is a very different process. It takes equal time to develop high and low performers. It takes equal time to engage them in challenging assignments that stretch them to maximum potential. This also eliminates the “likeability” factor: I like you better or I like your results better. Focusing on potential elevates everyone in the team, showing you are a better leader and have a deep vested interest in everyone.