Do you have an awesome work environment and dynamic? You’re very fortunate if you respond with an enthusiastic, “yes!”
Our work is split between in-person, remote and travel. The dynamic between you and your colleagues may be uninspired, strained and uncertain. Or maybe it just feels isolated and governed by Zoom meetings.
But my question is, “How do you think about improving how things feel, how you work together and navigate this uncertain environment?”
Calling for norms is the wrong focus
Many people focus on their organization’s actions and response. “We need to set boundaries — the zoom meetings are out of control.” “We need to figure out ways to get together more frequently.” “We need to set policies for when we are and aren’t in the office.”
The various calls for establishing organizational norms are endless.
I don’t think that will achieve the desired outcome.
While organizations can certainly help create the conditions, it is really you who has the power to fundamentally transform what it is like to work at your organization.
Sound ambitious? Naive? Par for my career! 🙂
It’s all about cultivating culture
The quality of your work dynamic is 90% cultural and 10% driven by the organization. Culture is the values, beliefs and behaviors of the people. The organization doesn’t have values, beliefs and behaviors. It’s the people. It’s you.
I’ve worked in small, medium and large organizations. The quality of my work dynamic is always a function of how I show up and how I work with others. It certainly hasn’t been because of organizational policies or norms.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges, things I don’t like or want to change. But calling on “the organization” to make the changes never gets very far.
Work on relationships between people
The key is that it involves people. How you are and work with others. And its a way of being, not a quick fix to organizational frustrations.
Here are some ways I try to affect the dynamic in a positive way. Which ones could you try?
- Connect with a colleague on a human level. Get to know them. Find out about their ambitions and challenges. Do something nice for them. Do this with each of your colleagues over the coming weeks. Interact with them as people, not “co-workers.”
- Ask your colleagues for feedback on your latest work. Show them something that you’ve just started working on and ask for their honest suggestions to improve it. Be delighted and interested no matter what they say. Asking others for their point of view and listening with curiosity is a super power.
- Engage colleagues who have less seniority, political capital or reputation. Go to the least powerful and ask for their thoughts. Learn something from them only they could provide. Appreciate them.
- Share something you’re good at or recently tried (a new technique or tool) that others would be interested in learning, too. Help them build their skills. Build this simple peer to peer professional development into your regular workflow.
- Take a stand against a dysfunctional thing that you’re all a part of by doing a different, better behavior. Get more done in a 30 minute meeting and let people go instead of stretching to an hour. Start going with other people’s ideas instead of arguing for your own.
- Figure out ways to make the space where you work together nicer. Put ideas and inspiring imagery on the walls. Adjust the lighting. Help keep the place orderly – don’t just rely on support staff. Get on zoom together for an “remote office clean up where everyone takes 30 minutes to organize your own space and banter about anything interesting or nothing in particular.
- Recruit your colleagues to join you in the office even though nobody has to be there. Celebrate everyone who shows. Bring in a treat you made. Don’t announce it beforehand as a bribe. Let it be a surprise to those that show up.
The idea is that you can and should be nurturing others and your relationship with them. It’s not just about the work. It’s about the work AND about each other.
Let me know what you do to make your work dynamic better and nurture the culture of your organization. Let me know what challenges you face.
Remember, it’s 95% what you and other individuals do, not what “the organization” does.