Abundance Mindset: Overcoming Culture Erosion to Create Safe & Healthy Workplaces - Part 4 of 4

January 28, 2016 | Lexy Thompson | HCI
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In Part 1 of this series we introduced the concept of an Abundance Mindset and the three different types of work environments: Abundance Based, Uncivil, and Abusive. Part 2 addressed the “Why bother?” and how to start detecting scarcity thinking. In Part 3, we focused on individual based solutions, and now we are ready to move into organizational culture solutions. 

Back to that Environment Spectrum.

Culture Erosion: the gradual destruction or diminution of team and/or organizational culture; typically marked by an increase in scarcity thinking, and in many cases abusive conduct.

Culture Accretion: the process of growth or increase in abundance mindset, reestablishing a sustainable team or organizational culture that thrives.

STEP ONE: Assessment

Where does your organization fall on the spectrum?

Understanding where you’re starting is extremely important because identifying the problems informs your solutions. Is it one or two teams you’re noticing concerning trends in, or is it organization wide? One or two teams could just be a lack of leadership training, resources or effective communication. Organization wide means there is clearly a cultural problem, and you probably need external resources to help.

Be honest. Remove ego.

Most people would like to think they work in an Abundance Environment. In my experience, that typically isn’t the case. The potential may be there, though there are a few key pieces missing. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Can 90% of the organization’s employees (including me) repeat the company values AND can provide examples of behaviors that model them?
  2. Do we have an anti-abusive conduct policy?
  3. Would 90% of our employees say they are clear on what success looks like in their role?
  4. Does my team/organization typically produce work that exceeds expectations?
  5. Do we have a way to measure team dysfunction?
  6. Is turnover a topic of discussion almost every year?
  7. Would 90% of our organization describe our leaders as talent-minded servant leaders?
  8. Would 90% of our employees confirm they spend 80% of their time utilizing their strengths?

If you answered yes 1-5 and 7-8, and no to 6, congratulations! Chances are pretty high you work in an Abundance Environment, or at least one that’s really close. More likely than not, you’re somewhere in the Uncivil to Abusive range, which is unfortunately “normal” for organizations in the United States.

STEP TWO: Accountability

What can we do to hold people accountable to abundance in our culture?

There are 3 key parts to this:

  1. Lead by example. Walk your talk. Be your word. However you want to phrase it, the organization’s leadership HAS to buy in and BE the change (as Mahatma Gandhi would say). The most tangible way to do that is with the organization’s values.
    1. We typically have the executive leadership team sit down and discuss what the values mean in relation to their culture, mission and vision, then have them attach behaviors they feel best exemplify each value.
    2. They then have to openly communicate them to the organization on a FREQUENT basis.
    3. They have to keep them visible to themselves and others. For example, we have a graphic with our values on it that everyone on our team has visible in their office. Some team members pin it to a board, others frame it. I have it pasted into my work notebook that I use every day and take everywhere. We have a client that created little cards that are easily portable for everyone. Feel free to get creative, just make sure you’re doing it.
    4. Hold the employees accountable to knowing them! At the end of our team meetings, I’ll ask, “What’s value number 5? What behaviors demonstrate that value?” It gets them looking at the values at least weekly and eventually helps everyone commit them to memory!   We then share moments in our previous week that we faced a challenge in living one or more AND celebrate our teammates success in our team mates when we see them "being" our values.
  2. Create a policy. Make everyone sign off on the expectation that you are committed to a safe, healthy work environment! There are no laws in this country prohibiting abusive conduct; it’s up to your organization to state firmly, on the record, that fostering an abusive environment is not acceptable.
    1. Zero-tolerance policies don’t cut it; in most cases, anti-discrimination and hostile work environment policies don’t hold weight when it comes down to legal adherence. If you’re truly serious about eliminating abusive conduct and preventing it in the future, you need a very clear, deliberate and separate policy.
    2. Only 3% of employers have an adequate policy. For more information on that and what an adequate policy looks like, click here.
  3. Provide tools and resources to your employees.
    1. Is effective communication an issue? Bring in a tool and resource that remedies that.
    2. Are your leaders having a difficult time motivating employees and resorting to less than desirable tactics? Bring in a tool and resource that remedies that.
    3. Are your employees missing deadlines? Bring in a tool and resource…well, you get the idea.
    4. If the organization sets an expectation, be sure it’s executable!

STEP THREE: Prevention

How can you create a filter that only let’s in what’s right for your culture?

This is how things stay sustainable.

You stop the scarcity and deficit thinking before they even start.

The measures you put in place in Step Two are absolutely a part of that (values, policy, tools). The idea here is that you’re extending this to your hiring decisions, onboarding, your partnerships with vendors, your clients or customers…everything your business comes in contact with should be true to your culture.

Sometimes that means saying no. Sometimes that means sacrificing a dollar knowing that choice will reap more rewards than what you seemingly lost. It means truly subscribing to an Abundance Mindset.