Tag Archive for culture shift

Rubber, Meet Road

otherthings-620x412In shocking news, culture is fascinating to me.

OK. Unless this is your first time here, you know I’m being silly when I say that’s shocking news. And if it’s your first time here, um, hi. And um, make yourself at home. Well, actually you probably are already at home, so…moving right along.

One thing you’ll see during a culture shift is when the organization begins to try to live differently, for lack of a better way of saying it at the moment.

You see, it’s all quite easy in the team meetings or on the email threads to say we’re going to do this or that, or be this or that. It’s quite another thing to actually do this or that or actually be this or that.

It’s never easy. And the reason it’s never easy is because doing something different rarely is easy. It’s usually uncomfortable to at least some degree. Even if you’re fully committed to being a thing, the actual being of that thing can cause hesitation, doubt, and even the temptation to rein it in a little.

You’ve got to fight it.

One thing I’ve loved watching here at Mazuma is this very thing happening. We want to put our team members first. We want them to be creative. We want them to do things differently. We want to be open to progressive and different work styles.

That’s all well and good until someone asks to move their desk to the roof and parachute onto it every morning because it inspires their best work.

So it takes some getting used to, both from an organizational perspective and a leadership perspective.

The organization has to move from a prescription mindset, where the powers that be dictated exactly how everything has to be done and exactly how everyone has to act; to a permission mindset, where they have the permission to be themselves, have fun, be positive, find ways to collaborate, be creative (whatever that means for them), learn, and grow together. There aren’t specific ways that every person will do any of those things. That’s why it’s not a prescription. We’re not prescribing anything. We’re describing our values, hiring people who share them, and then trying to make space for them to be the humans they are.

Leaders within organization have a different challenge in that we have to learn how to roll with some of the changes as they’re occurring. The fact is that some of the changes that these unique humans (or in our case Mazumans) make will be ones we didn’t anticipate and may not have suggested. But at the same time, we want to not only allow, but also encourage flexibility, creativity, and being “out of the box” with how we do stuff.

One example, just from me personally, would be that I love working outside or from different locations. I just can’t seem to sit still in the same spot in the same office and think well for a long time. (Thanks, adult ADD) So I have to switch it up, etc. Now my boss has given us the flexibility to do things like that, assuming of course that we’re getting our stuff done and assuming of course that we’re not just never at the office and so on. But there’s still this twinge every once in a while where I’m like is it really ok that I’m working on this project from a coffee shop? And I have to remind myself that yes, it’s not only ok, it’s probably a good thing. It’s our culture actually being lived out.

Or the other day, when my team set up beach chairs and an umbrella behind our building and made drinks for everyone. I loved it. But there was also this tiny part of me that was thinking maybe I should send an email detailing what sorts of fun and creativity are a good idea and what aren’t just so we’re all on the same page and all that.


No, no, no. They’re doing exactly what they should be doing — finding ways to live the culture we’ve said we want to live at Mazuma. Will it always look the exact way it should? Well of course not — we’re all different humans. Will it make us uncomfortable sometimes? Gosh I hope so or we probably haven’t changed much or challenged the status quo enough.

Sometimes we’ve got to fight our urge to pull back and just let ’em dance.

Employees Can’t “Just Get Over It”

changeBeing a human, or a human being, is a tough gig. One of the more difficult parts of being human also happens to be a thing we frequently experience in one way or another: change.

Change takes many forms. Growth. Development. Shift. Adjustment. Redirection. Rejuvenation. Rebirth. Rethinking. Transformation.

And it can be experienced and perceived both positively and negatively, yes? Sometimes the change feels good and generates feelings of happiness or contentment. Other times, not so much. It can drive us to our knees in despair, anger, and hopelessness.

Organizational life isn’t immune to this phenomenon. Shift happens. [Insert your favorite cliché shift_happensphrase about change here. Maybe “Change is the only constant” or something.]

Since we’re all humans (I’m operating under the assumption that it’s mostly humans who read this blog), we each deal with change differently, and we deal with different types of change in different ways.

Many times the way some folks deal with organizational change frustrates leaders. These leaders, most of whom I’d assume are very well-meaning, often wish others would work through change in a manner they find more acceptable. Perhaps they believe the employees are being immature. Maybe it’s the pace at which they’re working through the change. It could be the methods they’re using to navigate that time. It could be any number of things or combination of things, and I’m not even saying there’s not ever merit in those things.

Everybody, certainly including leaders, has immature moments or periods. Everybody loses their cool sometimes. Everybody handles some types of change better or faster or more smoothly than other types. Everybody has all sorts of baggage, whether you see it or not.

The-Wizard-of-Oz-House-on-witch So here’s the thing — most of the time, if there were a way for employees to slip on some ruby slippers, click their heels together, and make themselves be flawless as it relates to their ability to embrace and drive change, I think they’d do it. I know I would (although the ruby slippers would be pushing it).

But no such voodoo exists. There are reasons people all over organizations everywhere can’t just snap their fingers and “get over” things or “move on.” Sometimes they’re trying extremely hard, but just can’t do those things as quickly or in the same ways as some might want them to. Other times maybe they’re so emotionally damaged that they’ve essentially given up trying.

Again though, there are reasons. There are always reasons people do things, and that rings true here as well. What might some of them be?

We’ll look at some of them tomorrow. In the meantime, think through your own attitude toward change. How do you cope with it? What methods work for you? What methods don’t? What tips would you share?

But also, think through your attitude toward others as they navigate change. Are you empathetic? Kind? Impatient? Arrogant? Cranky, irritable, and bloated? (wait — I think that’s from some commercial or something) What do the best leaders seem to do to help people through difficult times?


Top Posts of 2012: 5 Things Employees Aren’t Thinking

Over the next week, we’re going to take a quick trip down memory lane and check out the posts you guys read and shared the most. So sit back, grab some coffee, and enjoy the year’s best Mojo according to you, my esteemed readers.

Very few people enjoy going to work every day in an environment filled with distrust, negativity, gossip, complaining, lack of commitment, political maneuvering, and so many of the other ugly things that characterize too many groups and organizations. And most folks, if you ask them, would say they wish things were different where they work. In fact, a recent Gallup poll suggests that up to 71% of individuals said they were less than thrilled with their work environments.

But they need to work. Or they like to stay busy. Or they’re holding out hope that maybe, just maybe, someday the organization will change. So people keep clocking in, doing their thing, keeping their head down, dying a little bit on the inside, and then clocking out. And it’s not just a few folks here and there. It’s a lot of people in a lot of organizations.

And yet those same people, unless they’re gluttons for punishment, wish it were different. There are some things I can almost guarantee your employees aren’t thinking. It’s not like they’re sitting around thinking:

1. Gosh, I love that my workplace sucks the life out of me everyday.

2. You know, if I had to choose between enjoying coming to work and dreading coming to work, I believe I’d prefer to dread coming to work every day.

3. I hate fun. I generally try to avoid fun at all costs. I hate mirth. I detest tomfoolery of any sort. If I were able to avoid smiling altogether somehow, I’d like to never smile again. Like ever. If I could choose between having fun and not having fun, I’d definitely choose not having fun.

4. Boy, I sure hope someone says something awful about me behind my back today, and further, I really hope no one sticks up for me when that happens.

5. I think I’m really starting to trust my teammates, and that sucks.

(Do you see the opportunity yet?)

They need leaders. They need people to lead them where they already want to go. It’s not like you’d be leading them toward some undesirable state of affairs. On the contrary, you’d be leading them toward a trusting, honest, healthy, passionate, and maybe even—gasp—fun culture, which is exactly what most people want anyway. So if so many people want this, why do many people find themselves in environments that are none of the things they actually want? What’s missing?

Easy. You are.

Organizations need leaders. Real leaders.

They don’t necessarily need more people with titles. They need more people who develop a certain angst when they see their workplace dynamic going sideways on them, coupled with the desire and drive to do something to make a difference.

They need people with the guts to be vulnerable with their teammates. They need people with the courage to stand up and take their workplaces back from the negative folks lurking in the cubicle shadows.

They need people who might be a little crazy, but are passionate about being human, and fun, and creative, and helpful, and kind, and decent to other humans.

They need people with enough vision and passion to decide they’re going to make a difference in their workplace. They need people who are committed to being a force for good in the organization.

They need you.