Culture Change is a Complex Process
Make sense of it with actionable advice from experts on the front lines.
Make sense of it with actionable advice from experts on the front lines.
At gothamCulture, we conduct bi-weekly internal meetings dedicated to discussions about Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) and how to continuously embed them in our operations, services and work. One of our ongoing initiatives is to ensure the diversity of our network of partners and suppliers and the fair opportunities for them to be included across our projects and workstreams. In other words, we are actively working on achieving and maintaining supplier diversity; a key item of any DEIB strategy.
So what is supplier diversity?
Supplier diversity is a proactive effort to ensure that all potential suppliers have fair and equal opportunities to conduct business within an organization’s supply chain. Organizations that exert this effort create opportunities for inclusion of minority, underserved and underrepresented group-owned businesses such as ethnic minorities, immigrants, women, LGBTQ+ people, armed forces veterans, and people with a disability.
Why is it important to achieve supplier diversity?
Like every genuinely developed and implemented DEIB initiative, supplier diversity is critical for your people, your customers, your business and the bottom line, and the wider community.
People: Across the nation, people have vocalized their expectations around prioritizing DEIB in their organizations. In our own State of Culture 2021 study, we found that organizations performed better from a culture perspective when they openly and honestly discussed diversity and social justice issues. Moreover, the new generation of candidates value working for organizations that are actively investing in DEIB. Therefore, supplier diversity can impact employee satisfaction and in turn retention as well as widen your talent pool for recruitment. Read More…
Did you ever stop to recognize that we are all bombarded with “noise,” be it in the form of sound or motion or the endless pressure of the workplace, robbing us of the time we need to collect our thoughts, take a deep breath, and perhaps even have the chance to innovate?
Working with busy clients, I find the new normal to be one of near-constant interruption and a resultant inability to spend time in reflection – and real deep thinking. One executive, who was trained as an electrical engineer, put it simply: “The signal to noise ratio is unacceptable in today’s workplace.”
Signal to noise is technically the ratio of the strength of any signal carrying information to that of the interference that is present while trying to discern that signal. While it is generally expressed in decibels, it has come to be used in any number of fields, including WiFi networks. There are a significant library of equations describing it.
What my client referred to, however, was the ratio of useful information – the actual “signal” – we receive vs. the overload of “noise” that is endlessly transmitted our way. We effectively lose the “signal” due to the noise.
Our workplace has been transfigured in a little over thirty years. In the late 1980s, an “in” box and “out” box sat on each desk and letters and reports were drafted by hand or on typewriters. Back then, a phone call could interrupt us, but it was not forced upon us, especially if there was a savvy secretary sitting in the outer office running interference.
Fast forward to today, as emails pile up on our computer screens, chat boxes populate on top of them, and our personal devices hum with personal and professional texts. Often, we use streaming music to try to drown out the cacophony. And even then the inevitable mandatory video conference invitations (ironic that they are called invitations, isn’t it? Perhaps “mandates” would be more appropriate). Some clients lament that of 40 hours at work (virtual or in the office), all of those hours is scheduled in video or in-person sessions.
What can we do as leaders to mitigate the “noise” in our lives or at least take some initial steps? The first step, of course, is awareness that there is an issue. By naming it, we can begin addressing it. It might serve leaders to consider the following list or to develop their own. Try a few of these ideas – they have worked for many of our clients and can effectively help you hear the “signal” better and indeed reduce the “noise.”
Summer is officially in full swing, and for a lot of us, that means more time for reading. Sure you want to have a few easy and fun reads but it’s also nice to read thought-provoking books that continue to challenge you as you get through these warmer months. If you’re looking for a book that’s going to stick with you longer than your average beach read, the team at gothamCulture has compiled a list of stimulating and conversation-starting books that we’ve enjoyed.
A couple of months ago, Tim Bowden finished Humanocracy: Creating organizations as amazing as the people inside them by Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini. The authors highlight the massive costs of bureaucracy in organizations and offer a roadmap for creating organizations that replace complex, hierarchical chains of command with systems and structures based on trust and transparency. It’s a great read for anyone who wants to unlock the inherent creative capacities and unique talents of their organization to drive innovation and resilience.
Zad ElMakkaoui recently read Wherever You Go There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn which explains what mindfulness is and why it’s not reserved for Zen practitioners and Buddhist monks. It gives you simple ways to practice it in everyday life, both formally and informally while helping you avoid the obstacles on your way to a more aware self.
James O’Flaherty recommends Noise by Daniel Kahneman, Olivier Sibony, and Cass Sunstein. It shows the detrimental effects of noise in various fields like medicine, law, economic forecasting, strategy, performance reviews, personnel selection and outlines ways to reduce both noise and bias to make better decisions.
James also recommends Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely. This book discusses how our irrational and misguided behaviors are not random or senseless, but rather systematic and predictable.
Kate Gerasimova recently finished How to Change, by Wharton professor Katy Milkman, which talks about how to help us make changes stick, whether it is a return to the office or setting up big goals for the year. The key is to enjoy it more and surround yourself with people who believe in you. The author suggests using more specificity when setting goals, and pairing them with an activity you enjoy. Like going to the gym and listening to a book you like. It is a great read to see and try some experiments in trying to change our daily habits or the way we live our lives for the better.
Andrea Bennett started reading Influence by Robert Cialdini which explores the science and practice of what factors cause one person to say yes to another person and which techniques most effectively use these factors to bring about such compliance. Backed by Dr. Cialdini’s 35 years of evidence-based, peer-reviewed scientific research—including a three-year field study on what leads people to change—Influence is a comprehensive guide to using these principles to move others in your direction.
July 7, 2021
New York, NY – gothamCulture and the Global Organizational Culture Institute (GOCI) released the first annual 2021 State of Culture Report on July 7, 2021.
The 2021 State of Culture Report is the culmination of a year of research on a global scale of 241 respondents across local, national, and global organizations. From this research, we extracted key insights into the aspects of organizational culture and climate that link to a variety of performance outcomes as well as the practices that drive results in the day-to-day.
Some key findings from the study include:
For more insights to read the entire 2021 State of Culture Report.
Stay up to date with future State of Culture surveys and reports.
gothamCulture is a management consulting firm that draws on our associate’s comprehensive expertise and experience in the areas of culture, leadership, and people strategy to provide innovative solutions and client-service excellence. Our work is guided by our deeply held shared values, including a commitment to each other and our clients, unwavering integrity, the maniacal pursuit of excellence, relatable expertise, and authentic community. For more information, visit www.gothamCulture.com.
About the Global Organizational Culture Institute (GOCI)
Founded in 2020, the Global Organizational Culture Institute (GOCI) is dedicated to conducting research on the topic of organizational culture in order to understand what factors drive performance outcomes. GOCI’s research serves as the foundation for the annual State of Culture Study and associated reports. Learn more at: www.globalstateofculturestudy.com
In executive coaching, we spend considerable time helping clients build awareness about their range and capabilities as leaders.
A foundational element of that work is helping clients make meaning of their long-held understanding of the ideas around “Strengths” and “Weaknesses.”
The lens we use instead focuses on the idea of “well-developed,” and “less-developed” capabilities and attributes. A recent blog by my colleague Lisa McNeill so eloquently described those concepts.
Each of us has many well-developed sides. One example may be an ability by some leaders to speak and make their voices heard. For others, it may well seem to be almost the opposite, with attributes of listening and appreciative inquiry.
So, too, do each of us have less-developed sides that we can explore in coaching to help expand our range. The person who commonly uses the well-developed ability to speak can use choice, for instance, to include pausing and listening. The well-developed listener can expand their range to include expressing themselves more. It takes awareness and practice to expand their range as leaders. And it also takes an appreciation that they need not give up the “well-developed” attributes – just know when they are using – or overusing – them and choose to move towards their less-developed capabilities.
It is often a revelation for individuals to realize that the appreciation of where they are “well-developed” are attributes like muscles that serve them and that adding other muscles – the “less-developed” capabilities – expand their range.
Consider this: I once worked with a client who described himself as “stubborn.” He characterized it for me as a weakness. Through a series of questions, I asked if being stubborn had served him in any way. He admitted that he was not the type to give up on a project or in working to develop a subordinate.
“And how would you call that a weakness?” I asked.
“Well, I guess it isn’t always that way,” he said.
We explored more together and it emerged for the client that being stubborn had served him throughout his career. He was the person who saw things through to their completion. He had devoted countless hours towards the success of his company. His well-developed “stubbornness” was the grit and determination of a leader.
In our sessions, he realized, too, that at times his stubbornness had come at some personal expense.
“When did that happen?” I questioned.
“Well, sometimes I just don’t give up, even when I know the project is a dead end.”
“Anything else? I asked.
“Sometimes it is hard on my family as I work all night long to complete an assignment.”
Then he admitted: “And there are times I don’t accept an idea that differs from my own.”
Such moments can serve as breakthroughs for a client, as they realize that their well-developed sides serve them, but, if overused or if they become habitual, can stop serving them or even cost them.
As Gestalt coaches, we often use the concept of “polarities.” Using the example of the “stubborn” client, I invited him to think of a polarity related to that attribute. His answer: “flexibility,” along with “receptivity,” and “openness.” I asked him how he would “glide” between his stubborn side and his flexible one. Neither side was good or bad, strong or weak – they were both attributes that could assist him in his leadership style and personal interactions with those around him.
Throughout the next few sessions, the client spoke about how he wanted to “try” using both his well-developed and less-developed sides. His practice with a new capability grew through his own intentions and choices he would make working with others. He became skilled at reading a situation and knowing when to use his already-developed “stubborn” side, along with his developing “flexible” one. He became more adept the more he practiced and reflected on his success in our sessions together.
Working with clients as a coach teaches me more than I can relate, and it serves me in helping leaders throughout the world. Expanding our range is a worthy goal for all of us – and appreciating our own “well-developed” sides is such a great first step!
This article originally appeared on Bostonexecutivecoaches.com.
As organizations begin to implement their change initiatives and re-establish the way they do work, I cannot help but think about the body of knowledge I worked with during my time in graduate school around covert processes at work. Robert Marshak describes six dimensions that impact any organizational change plan that need to be addressed to ensure the success of that effort. In a previous article, I discussed the different themes organizations need to consider as they set up their ‘return to office’ (or not) strategies. In this article, I will be covering Marshak’s work on hidden covert processes that you will need to keep an eye out for and consider to ensure your organizational change plan is implemented and managed successfully.
To start, what are covert processes?
Unlike overt processes, which can be observed, covert processes are hidden, unspoken, and unacknowledged. They are the collective unconscious dynamics that exist within organizations that regularly impact the interactions and responses of people within the organization. If change management leaders do not account for them in their plans, these processes or dimensions can impact the workflow and stand in the way of achieving organizational goals and change objectives. It is important to know that covert dynamics occur outside of our awareness and you and your employees can be engaging in them without knowing it.
The 6 dimensions of change
Marshak lists six dimensions of change: Reason, Politics, Inspirations, Emotions, Mindset, and Psychodynamics. The first is the only overt dimension out of the six whereas the latter 5 are covert. Read More…
It has happened to all of us.
There are various scenarios, but it can go something like this: we get a call from a co-worker who expresses concern about something we might have said or done. We immediately begin explaining the facts about what we were trying to accomplish, carefully going into full detail for the benefit of the other person.
Then you hear, “Wow, you sure sound very defensive,” or “I feel as if you are overreacting.” From there, things can go from bad to worse.
You hang up and shake your head, saying to yourself, “I didn’t intend for that to happen, but the other person should have understood what I was trying to say.” That feeling grows even more over time and a relatively small issue becomes an interpersonal concern for you and the other individual. Over more time a deeper resistance can build between you.
A number of clients have had this happen. What they learn in our coaching sessions is that their intentions sometimes do not match the outcome, or, in other words: “That didn’t work out the way I thought it would!” Read More…
Over the last year, business leaders and organizational development experts have been emphasizing the strategic priority of figuring out what the ‘return to work’, or more accurately, ‘return to office’ is going to look like. We heard about ‘hybrid models’, ‘permanently remote models’, and ‘rotating shifts models’. While all of these ideas might be great in theory, the specifics still seem fuzzy to most. With restrictions being eased and more and more people getting vaccinated, the pressure to have ready-to-launch plans that answer all of the diverse workforce needs is on more than ever.
I recently attended an interactive seminar on change leadership with a group of 30 or so organizational development experts and HR leaders to explore how real-life organizations will need to address the challenges of returning to the office (or not). We huddled up and discussed actionable change management plans we would implement to make the transition successful. My colleagues in the virtual room had brilliant ideas to share, and it was evident that while there was agreement around some aspects of the change management plans, people had very different ideas of what needed to be done. And they all seemed like really good ideas. Read More…
“This is your captain speaking. We’re experiencing some turbulence right now. My first officer and I are working with air traffic control to find a smoother altitude for you. In the meantime, please keep your seat belts securely fastened.”
How many times have you heard language like this? And have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes on the flight deck and contemplated using that as an example of how we all can lead our organizations in times of turbulence?
As a coach, I often use metaphors to help clients build their awareness. And as a former professional pilot, I have to admit that I very often use metaphors that are aviation-related.
Turbulence. We’ve all experienced it in flight and no doubt we’ve also felt metaphorical turbulence in our personal and professional lives. And we have each reacted to it in a multitude of ways.
A captain of an airliner has a role, not unlike a corporate leader. Even more than in a company, though, the captain is literally strapped to the airplane and controlling its every movement. What does a captain do that a corporate leader can emulate? Read More…
May 11, 2021
New York, NY – gothamCulture, founded in 2006 by U.S. Army Veteran Chris Cancialosi, is celebrating its 15th Anniversary this year. Cancialosi served in Iraq from 2003 to 2005 as a battalion operations officer and helicopter pilot. Cancialosi and the team of experts at gothamCulture work with senior leaders across industries and sectors to design and deploy organizational transformation processes creating and sustaining effective large-scale change. Since its inception, gothamCulture has evolved and adapted to the changing world of work over the past several years.
In 2019, in partnership with a long-standing federally focused training company, gothamCulture launched Gotham Government Services (GGS). GGS provides learning and performance improvement services to Federal clients such as the Veterans Benefits Administration, Army Futures Command, Department of Treasury, and Department of Energy.
In 2020, gothamCulture expanded its learning and development offerings for teams and senior leaders from fully customized learning solutions to off-the-shelf courses that can be delivered in-person or via live online.
In May 2021, gothamCulture will release its inaugural Annual Global State of Culture Report leveraging research and survey data translated into practical knowledge and tools that enable leaders to create positive organizational change.
Finally, in May 2021, gothamCulture launched a proprietary research-based performance model, and a suite of assessments for individuals, teams, and organizations. The Mosaic Performance Framework leverages decades of empirical research about what drives performance providing clients with on-time actionable insights.
gothamCulture is a certified Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business.
gothamCulture is a management consulting firm that draws on our associate’s comprehensive expertise and experience in the areas of culture, leadership, and people strategy to provide innovative solutions and client-service excellence. Our work is guided by our deeply held shared values, including a commitment to each other and our clients, unwavering integrity, the maniacal pursuit of excellence, relatable expertise, and authentic community. For more information, visit www.gothamculture.com.