How to support teams to build the desired culture

How to support teams to build the desired culture

As we know that “culture eats strategy for breakfast,” the same way we believe that “culture” can also do things which supports the strategy.

We do this support when we have a dialog about the culture we desire. Our culture ideally should be supportive the strategy so that we can move towards our vision and fulfill our mission.

This dialog is best done when we build new teams, or an existing team starts reflecting their values and desired values.

The good news is that almost everyone I am talking to gave me information about their value finding sessions and agreed on values. The values are written on walls or put on post-its and made visible on desks.

This activity is valuable and necessary. We believe in that having found the values will create a new culture.

Challenges in culture building

Even if everyone is aware of the desired culture and supporting values, almost every team and organization have problems to make it real.

There are three main challenges why teams or organizations fail to create a new culture:

  1. Lack of personal commitment to change: Most team members are not aware of what are the personal and professional benefits of transformation. Since this is not there the willingness and personal commitment to change stays at a level, which cannot have the expected impact.
  2. Missing courage and discipline to behave differently: New culture means new behavior. We cannot expect a different culture by acting the same way. Acting in a new way requires courage since we most probably have to leave our so-called comfort zone.
  3. Non-compliant cultural environment: If the overarching culture does not allow nurturing a new one then there will be almost no chance to build a new culture. In this case, we may talk about a non-compliant culture.

 

Culture is built when new values are in action

As the team has a task to accomplish and deliver a valuable outcome, the team should not forget to know that this is achieved when the desired culture is nurtured at the same time. In other words, the team handles the tasks or delivers results only because of it has lived and cultivated the new culture.  The group acts with the awareness that the original power of our behaviors is in the new values.

 

Here is one way of doing it

To see the values in action, we should have regular dialogs about our behavior, actions and decisions and their link to values.

Here are the steps for a “dialog about our values in action” (2-3 hours session) (adapted from Get Connected from Barrett Values Centre)

  1. Inform your team about the purpose and objective of the dialog
  2. Prepare a Flipchart with the values of the team (in a circle or a triangle)
  3. Ask each team member writing down on post-its the most exciting 3 “wow” moments in day to day work
  4. Invite team members to present and talk about their “moments” of excitement and let them put the post-its in relevance to the value. The idea is to see the connection between the actions and values.
  5. Nurture the dialog, so that the team members get more and more aware of the link between value and behavior. Ask open questions. The process is the key here not the result.
  6. Have a short break
  7. Now ask each team member writing down on post-its the most upsetting three moments in day to day work
  8. Invite team members to present and talk about their “moments” of being upset and let them put the post-its in relevance to the value. Being upset is mostly related to an unmet need or not “respected” value. The idea is to see the connection between the actions and values.
  9. Nurture the dialog, so that the team members get more and more aware of the link between value and behavior. Ask open questions. What was missing? Which value was not respected? The process is the key here not the result.
  10. Invite the team to choose 3-5 from those “upsetting” moments and have a dialog about “wanted” and “unacceptable” behavior.
  11. Close the session with awareness on working on the new culture repeat this course as needed within 4-6 weeks.

This exercise increases team cohesion.

With commitment, discipline and awareness we can help teams to create the desired culture.

You may give it a try. Enjoy!

Listening

ListeningWhy listening makes you a better leader and increases the self-confidence our your colleagues, empowers your teams?

Let us imagine that someone is coming to us with a problem.

And we are listening.

What may happen with us is to check in our database/thoughts (values, beliefs, experiences..) whether we had a similar problem as she and what were the consequences of that issue in our case. Everything that she says is internally interpreted, evaluated by us.

With this information, we get very much involved in the conversation, and we sympathize with her.

This moment can be a good sign for not listening. Yes, this is not listening”; it is the start of dealing with yourself, with our thoughts.  If the problem is not fitting into our „list“ of „advice“ we get irritated. The irritation comes from fear, and we feel out of control.

What is out of control?

So, what to do not to fall into the trap of „being out of control“?

  1. Create an intention to be curious.
  2. Be courageous to explore new territories.
  3. and, „see“ that you are at no time out of control, since there is NO control at all

What do we do when we listen?

  1. We listen what she says,
  2. We listen to the tone of what she says,
  3. We listen to our heart, body what it means, without judging

We do this by letting go of the desire to stabilize, control the life, which is continuously changing.

This way of listening supports your colleague. She sees the problem with clarity, which gives her more confidence to solve it. She gains more trust towards you as a leader.

You as a leader have proven again your trust to your colleague, that she can solve problems and by listening you have learned a lot more about yourself as a leader.

You have extended your new areas to discover.

„Great leader has great teams“ is no more an illusion once your intention is stronger than your fear.

Agile Transformation is a Cultural Transformation

For valid reasons, many organizations have chosen to go through an „agile transformation“ while using Scrum as a framework for complex product development processes.

This transformation is a journey and impacting the way of working, the behavior.

With the positive attitude, enthusiasm and the genuine commitment from both top and down the transformation start very well. After a while -even in the development teams the transformation shows the expected results- at a wider range in the company the transformations slows, even more, the transformation becomes something for „development only.“ Old behaviors come back, and it starts limiting the growing space of agile teams. As a result, the progress of those teams reaches a „plateau,“ where they do not grow anymore, and even worse it may start to shrink. Shrinking becomes visible with less employee engagement and lack of trust between the teams and disconnects towards higher management.

Those may be the warning signs „lost energy“ (hard: money/cash; soft: internal cohesion) caused by frictions, which require everyone to think and act. In other words: transformation is most likely going to fail, and it will be only a „change“: the framework is adapted, but the behavior remains the same as before.

What could be the reasons for that?

Agile Transformation is a „Cultural Transformation.“ Why? Scrum is giving a framework and asking to change the way of working and embracing the following values: commitment, focus, courage, openness, and respect. Those values are positive, and everyone agrees on the importance.

Values are „real values“ if they are lived daily by demonstrating them with behavior and taken as a „decision criteria.“ Printing them with large letters and putting everywhere does not help if the behavior is not reflecting the value itself. As the culture is developed by behavior, the transformation we are looking for is cultural transformation: moving from the old towards a new one.

If the mentioned values are not lived, or they cannot be lived due to „potentially limiting“ values in an organization (like hierarchy, blame, micro-management), then the envisioned agile transformation would have a hard time to flourish.

7-LevelsLet us take the Seven Levels Of Consciousness of Richard Barrett (Barrett Values Centre) and map the Scrum Values. Respect level 2, Focus level 3, Courage level 4, Commitment and Openness level 5. Even if it’s possible to act on different levels of organizational consciousness at the same time, there will be challenges. For example, if the organization has not mastered the level 1 (financial stability) and level 2 (positive relationships) due to, e.g., potentially limiting values of blame and micro-management, it will be challenging to have working „openness and commitment.“ We often hear: „we have given the people all the freedom, but they are not taking responsibility.“ Why? Good question: why people are hesitant…?

What could be a way to go?

No matter whether you are in the transformation process or just about to start it:

  1. TRPCoach everyone in the company The Responsibility Process® created by Christopher Avery: „which mental state we are choosing when we face a problem/upset“, to learn how to take responsibility.
  2. Measure your culture, yes it is measurable (Values Centre). Share the results with employees and take actions and commit to change the culture.
  3. Support everyone with appropriate coaching during their transformation.

Here is the challenge: this is a personal transformation. It requires individual commitment. Organizations do not transform, transform people do!