Culture at Work
Throughout the pandemic of racism and COVID-19, one thing is certain: we need one another. In this article we will address the following with a train of thought identifying we are more alike than different. Within a context of any organization we will address the following:
· What does the organizational culture say, or not say?
· Let’s talk emotions, & define support.
· Introduce workforce gender, race, age statistics.
· We think different, how can we accomplish something meaningful?
Culture according to Edgar Shein is created on 3 levels:
· Artifacts: What is viewed, heard, & felt by employees
o Dress Code
o Behavior of the team
o Mission & Values on the wall that signal the right thing to do
· Values: The values of the employees, noting that mindset of team members influences culture at work including:
o Thought Process
· There are deep & underlying assumptions.
o Unspoken norms & behaviors
o Cannot be measured
o Difficult to see & change.
To get a true reading of your organization’s culture, ask a new employee what they experienced when they first walked into the work setting. Culture matters because it defines what is rewarded and punished. We have prescribed values of how we would like things to be. We also have descriptive beliefs of what we acknowledge as truth.
Dr. Sigal Barsade has conducted research with remarkable results proving emotions can be measured, specifically emotions of affection, caring, compassion, & tenderness. The degree of freedom of expression of love increases engagement of employees, with positive outcomes for patients and their families. Culture is composed of cognitive & emotional factors with norms of whether we can express, or to what degree we should suppress our thoughts & feelings. Cognitive factors include beliefs arising from the deep assumptions of what is unspoken.
Why are emotions important? One of the key skills for emotional intelligence and leadership is self-awareness. Anger is rooted in sadness, and fear. We often hold onto the expression of anger, as it makes us feel powerful. The world’s top leaders when surveyed pointed to self-awareness as a top skill they have worked on continually. It’s important to acknowledge our emotions and regulate them, so we can manage our response to the stressful events happening all around us.
There is a model of change called SARAH that is very helpful to navigate what seems like constant change.
We have multi-generations in the workforce, with the following projections for 2020 by Society of Human Resource Management as follows:
· Silent Generation 1%
· Baby Boomers 22%
· Generation X 20%
· Millennials 50%
· Generation Z 7%
We need community & support. Empathetic listeners are who we need to be & feel with us. With all the divide happening all around the world, how do we find common ground to care for each other? The truth is, we have more in common than we realize.
In the USA, women make up for half the workforce. People of different race make up the workforce as follows:
· White 785
· Black 13%
· Asian 6%
· American Indians & Alaskan Natives 1%
· Native Americans & Pacific Islanders 1%
There is value in diversity of thought, as teams made of people with unique viewpoints help solve problems with optimal results. It is up to leaders to decide to seek and value diversity and seek talent from diverse groups. Equally important to this action, is to communicate the reason for seeking inclusion efforts. This includes connecting talent from underrepresented backgrounds with opportunity that those in the majority have unfair access to.
Structural racism has conditioned us to accept that including people of color in majority-white workplaces, especially Black people, equates to lowering the bar. Not only is this framing incorrect, it is dangerously divisive. Still, it remains pervasive.
Employees need to understand diversity and inclusion enriches the innovation, intelligence of the workforce with enriched ideas to flourish.
Team building efforts are one of the most important investments a leader can currently make. There is a process to help employees to become absorbed in their work. This is a level beyond being engaged and productive. Strength based approaches are effective, with a balance of adding skills, and removing barriers. We won’t know what is impeding group cohesion without honest conversations. The key to be effective with cultural cohesion strategies, is building trust.
Some questions to ask:
· Is the team on an equal playing field?
· How can we improve our processes to foster equality?
Be transparent about this process. Research shows people respect leaders who show vulnerability. We connect with authentic leaders who are not afraid to show emotion, realizing we are all part of one race, the human race.