To Achieve Culture Transformation, Be Prepared To Really Listen

Mondayitis - sad faceThe all-too-common Monday morning back-in-the-office sigh is one of the main reasons I became interested in the area of culture transformation.  Let me explain.

I have worked with private and public companies employing from 200 to 10,000 employees. The first thing I would hear each Monday morning when I asked “How are you?” was “It’s Monday, what do you expect? I wish it was Friday..”. This was the consistent response, whether I was working at a small or large company.

Overall, employees had a very disempowered context to their work. I could see how this way of thinking was a major barrier for each company to fulfil its vision and produce the best possible results. Such a culture also impacts on an employee’s personal life, where they are used to thinking “Just do enough to survive” rather than “What is possible?”.

In our turnaround engagement at Vantage Performance, in most cases we have to deal with distressed clients’ dysfunctional and often damaging culture. For a turnaround to be successful, one of the critical conditions is the support and partnership of stakeholders. Being a major stakeholder, employees play a huge part in successful turnaround.

To transform a situation or a person, don’t start by putting the focus on them – first, put the focus on yourself.

If you are not willing to look at what stops you, what are your barriers, then others will not “get it” and your efforts will end up being just meaningless ‘advice’.

For the past five years, I have been participating in training courses on transformation and have had the chance to reflect on many of my own barriers and what stops me from achieving best results. By the way, this is a journey and not an end.

Listening is one the foundation to transformation. Consider that most of the time we are not listening to what is being said, merely hearing what we want to hear. We interpret what is being said based upon our own beliefs and opinions from the past, which could be totally skewed from what is really being said.

One of the qualities all great leaders have is that they listen to their people/teams from the perspective that their teams are more capable than their own self. That is probably why teams can alter their performance significantly by having a new leader who perceives them as capable and challenges them accordingly.

Consider for one minute that if you think that someone is stupid; all the communication from that person to you has to pass through your filter of “someone stupid is saying this”.

Have you ever experienced the feeling of being at ease communicating with Person A, while being a little nervous or uncomfortable communicating the same thing to Person B? Consider that this could be a result of the different way each of the “listeners” is filtering you!

Start to notice if you are ‘hearing’ or ‘listening’ and you will find a big difference in clearly communicating with others!

 

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