In this blog, I look at how the type of conversations you have shape the ‘culture’ of your company. But before I get into conversations I give a simple definition and provide a short description of the historical context of business culture.
“Culture is the typical way that people think, act and behave in a company.”
Historically, and still in many companies even now, authority (or rather POWER) is carefully retained and guarded at the top of organisations. Even in the best companies when management is concerned about the welfare of their employees, managers tend to decide what is best for employees.
More recently, EMPOWERING and ENGAGING employees has become more popular. In such organisations, increased responsibilities and more authority to make decisions is given to employees. In my experience, people – perhaps Millennials in particular – expect to be given more authority or power and say over the work they do, where, when and how they work.
In fact, some companies in the digital sector are ‘breaking the mould’ of work by, for example, allowing their employees to decide what hours they will work, the number of days holiday they will take and when they take them. Such companies have a very different culture to more traditionally run businesses.
So what has culture got to do with you, or better put…
“What have you got to do with the culture of your company?”
Let’s look at what you tend to talk about. Take a moment to reflect on what you go to your people for and what you talk to them about?
In my experience, most managers go to the people who work for them to talk about the work. Perhaps to ask:
– Can you do this job for me?
– Is the ‘X’ job on track?
– What are you doing about…?
– How much time have you spent on…?
These topics of conversation get the work done BUT…
If you only talk to your people about the work then don’t be surprised if they think that the only thing you are interested in is the work and NOT in THEM!
Consequently, your people will do the work but they will not give you what they are capable of giving.
Now, let’s look at the types of conversation you have. You are probably like most (80/90%) of managers who tend to be ‘Directive’ by which I mean they have a tendency to tell people what to do either by instructing, informing or advising people about what they want doing.
This is not surprising when you:
– probably have more experience
– have a point of view and you are keen to share it
– want to ensure jobs are done right and
– probably want to be helpful and make things easier for them
These types of conversations also take less time which is attractive when you’re under pressure and time is short!
The problem with these types of conversations is that you end up with DOERS: people who are good at following what you tell them to do but not very good at thinking for themselves.
You might ask WHY?
It’s because YOU ARE DOING ALL THE THINKING. So if you want…
– people to keep bringing problems to you for you to solve
– to keep being dragged down into the detail
– to keep exhausting yourself running to keep up with everything
…then keep on doing most of the thinking BUT KNOW you are stifling the growth of your people and your business.
So how do you stimulate your people to grow and think for themselves?
1. Work on developing your conversational style so you really engage people
2. Work on being less directive or even Non-Directive
3. Develop your skills in asking great questions to encourage people to think for themselves, and with colleagues, to solve problems and take the initiative to provide an outstanding service.
Learn to be ‘in the moment’.
What do I mean by this? Being in the moment means being where you are and nowhere else. It means giving your total attention to the person you are with. If you are going to ask great questions that really get people thinking then you also have to be a great listener to understand, and perhaps check and explore what the person means.
Being in the Moment means being great at managing your attention which is a lot easier said than done. It’s so easy to let your mind run free such that you, for example, lose concentration by allowing it to drift onto another topic that is bothering you, or you answer your own question or interrupt the person before she has finished saying what she intends to say.
If you want to learn more about how to develop your company culture so that people think for themselves, take the initiative and take on more responsibility then please feel free to contact me via: