Significant events are defined as having major effects or meaning. Significance is in the perception of the person. I believe significant events occur around us all the time, but when they hit close to home is when we feel it personally. The last few weeks in Florida have been filled with major life changing events hitting close to home. Some of my co-workers and friends had loved ones who were killed as a result of one major event that occurred in Orlando, Florida. These events shape our culture. When events happen too often we become desensitized to them. Our minds begin to align – cope. This allows our culture to change often in a way we would not choose.
So, if culture is a belief system formed by a group of individuals then how do these significant events alter that culture? Do you think it’s possible that our personal lives could be so dramatically impacted that those profound changes could be isolated from how we interact with those we lead at work? I have had people say to me “I keep my work life and my personal life separate”. I have to say that is just a lie we like to tell ourselves. We are all human, significant events; these mile markers of life impact us all. We bring those core changes with us into whatever we are doing. If we choose to be bitter about these events, bitterness infiltrates our team’s culture. If we choose to be deeply depressed, a dark cloud will move over our team. It is not that we have all the power to change our culture; it is that we all the power to impact our culture.
As leaders it is not about taking sides when these significant events occur that impact our world, community, employees or even us personally. It is about acknowledging their impact and not glossing over the fact that we are all human. If you notice a change in the morale at work or in the demeanor of co-workers instead of judging it we should take a moment to think about what might be the root of it. Our role as leaders should be first and foremost to be there for our staff. That does not make us less of the corporate superhero. In the end when we help each other through these events we become stronger as a team.
So, how as leaders do we make sure we are in touch with our team’s culture? Start by really getting to know your staff. Build key relationships that let you discover who they are entirely. Be the type of leader that can enhance your culture. We can all do this through a smile, a kind word, a genuine inquiry on how someone is doing. Then the hard part…just listen. I tell this to my kids all the time God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.
This week those I lead will go through a small but significant change. It is nothing life changing but it is new and uncomfortable. I will do my best to listen for what is being said and what is not. I will remind myself daily that what I see at work is only one dimension of what people are going through. As leaders we must help channel the energy of our lives and our staff’s lives that is part of being intentional about our culture.