A little over a year ago, I was briefly exposed to Lean Management. A company I worked for hired a key leader to help our overstressed staff and inefficient operational processes with the hopes of adopting a Lean Culture.
Now I don’t know the impact of the Lean conversion or how effective his leadership is because my journey lead me away from that company during the implementation, but I will forever be impacted by a definition I read while equipping myself to help lead that staff through the cultural transformation. We were asked to read David Mann’s, Creating A Lean Culture and I’m so grateful for the book’s explanation of culture. It connected a lot of dots for me. Until then, culture had been a buzzword that was tossed around like a hot potato. I know I was guilty of throwing that spud around a time to two without really understanding the meaning.
I knew my community had a culture, my school district had a culture, and my company had a culture but that was where I thought it ended. I oversimplified culture. To me culture was as simple as how well ‘companies, systems or organizations’ treated the people working within them.
Then I read Mann’s book – and here’s the knowledge that completely changed this game for me: he defined workplace culture as the sum of its individuals’ work habits. He also presented this idea of culture: the knowledge an adult needs of how things are done to stay out of trouble as a member of a group.
Woah. That required some noodling – I haven’t stopped thinking about culture since. The book helped me realize that an organization or system’s culture is made of the employees’ daily practices, in addition to, a person’s ability to handle the unexpected even when others are freaking out in the corner. The energy at work is not something the organization or system controls – it’s the collective habits and courage of its employees. Mind blown!
Which lead me to realize then that we ALL create our own individual culture with those very same things. Our individual willingness to do the next right thing even when it’s scary and to do hard work every single day make up our culture. Our ability to manage the day to day and the unexpected creates the energy that surrounds us – our culture. A courageous culture is one that balances reliability and resilience.
So today I want you to noodle and reflect on your own individual culture as if you were your own company, organization or system. Use the questions below to see if you’ve created a culture of courage. Use the free download to find a task or two to help you build more resilient and reliable practices to keep your moving in that direction.
The Organization: Your Heart
- What Is Your Company’s Mission
- Are you grateful for the opportunity to serve?
- Do you personally find meaning in the work you’re doing?
- Do you have an opportunity to contribute your unique gifts?
- Do you have the ability to grow and learn?
The Boss: Your Head
- Does Your Company Care For You?
- Do you compare yourself to others?
- Do you judge yourself and others?
- Do you use shaming language or nasty remarks about yourself and others?
- Are you punished for mistakes?
The Employee: Your Hands
- Can I Sustain The Work?
- Do you do your tasks and help with everyone else’s too?
- Do you commit to more even when you’re overwhelmed, exhausted, or unwell?
- Do you prioritize your tasks based on urgency vs. importance?
- Is asking for help a fireable offense?
Want to start building resilience now? Check out this list of practices to help build resilience in your daily life: Resilience Building Practices