Workplace culture is shaped from the top down. One of the costliest mistakes to organizations is the inability or unwillingness of its leaders to successfully facilitate difficult conversations. The difficulty may lie in the manager’s skill level. He or she simply doesn’t know how to coach an employee on a performance issue. Or a leader may be embarrassed to talk with an employee about careless social skills. Or the difficulty may be a more complex cultural issue that goes unseen until the problem becomes national news.
As people across the world watch the 2016 United States presidential campaign, they witness the division and ultimately a culture change evolving in our nation.
We have more choices to express our opinions, but less tolerance for the opinions of others. We have more passion, but less compassion. We have more speed, but less self-control. We want even more freedoms but are unwilling to take responsibility.
As a supervisor or mid-level manager in a global company, you may not have the power to shape the entire culture, but you do have the power to shape culture in your department, local office, or workplace. It is not a question of whether or not you shape culture, but whether you shape culture consciously or unconsciously. The way you speak, the language you use, and the behaviors you exhibit influence the culture whether you are aware of it or not. When obvious signs emerge that indicate workplace drama, such as absenteeism, turnover, negativity or low morale, the leader can start to shift culture by changing language and behaviors. Here are some snapshots along with the behavior and a communication example to help you shape culture and improve business results.
No matter how you define workplace culture there’s no denying that relationship dynamics play a primary role in how we do things and how we get along.
The most influential relationship in the workplace is the boss-employee relationship, and because of this even departmental leaders and middle managers can influence and dramatically shift culture in their own area of control, whether it be in a franchise, a small business or the department of a global company.
With relationships in mind I want to share a model that I introduced in my first book, Stop Workplace Drama. The Karpman Drama Triangle, was developed by Dr. Stephen Karpman who used the model for the purpose of explaining dysfunctional family dynamics. It turns out that it is also a great tool to use in the workplace.
My consulting journey came from over 20 years of experience working at a fortune 100 company, but not as an executive in a corporate office, not as a business unit manager, not in marketing, and not in human resources. Instead, I was a blue-collar line worker in a food processing plant, doing everything from packing product, stacking skids, driving a forklift and tearing down equipment for sanitation on Friday nights.