In our recent blog, “5 ways to spark life back into your organisation”, we outlined 5 tactics to breath life into a mature organisation and these were:
- Shape conversations
- Get clear on what matters most
- Show them the lid of the box
- Deal with the “Tough Stuff”
- Change behaviours not just processes
Over the coming weeks, we will be running a series of blogs to explore each of these tactics in more detail. We start by discussing the importance of managers and leaders shaping the conversations that take place within their organisation.
Organisations spend a great deal of time creating and communicating their vision and values. However once this is done, a major ongoing challenge is to align the patterns of behaviour with the direction and priorities of the organisation. To be a customer-led, innovative, and agile organisation requires people to behave consistently with the espoused values.
Aligning, or changing the behaviour of people is a complex challenge. It can be approached in one of two ways:
Option 1: Force behaviour change through management decree. However, in most situations, simply driving compliance will not be effective. It undermines commitment, confidence and trust.
Option 2: Change the mindsets of people so that their thinking results in new desired behaviours. Mindsets (or beliefs) are hugely influential in driving behaviour. Changing mindsets is much more effective at sustaining change over the long term. The challenge is that it takes additional time and effort to do it properly!
An over-reliance on email and other “passive media” such as newsletters and notice boards to communicate important messages often compounds the problem. Role modeling, learning through experiences and providing reinforcing mechanisms are much more effective devices in helping to change mindsets. However, the key enabler that can be applied by leaders everyday is through ‘conversation’. It’s a principle that has been applied by psychologists and counselors for decades with people at an individual level. It’s also a key principle that underpins many coaching techniques. Changing culture by shaping the conversation is a key tool for any leader.
It also works at a team and organisational level. It’s the opportunity for people to engage in meaningful and structured conversation on a regular basis that will influence us the most.
But it’s not just about the talk. Taking action on the back of what we talk about, and therefore learning by doing, accelerates the process of establishing the new mindsets we want and therefore changing culture. Here are three practical tips to improve the quality of conversations within your organisation:
- Revamp your team brief process: As a manager of mine used to say “the core is bore, be vocal with the local”. Move away from dull, “cascade” style, corporate communications with your team and engage them in conversations about customers, their results and sharing ideas on how to be more effective as a team.
- Use stories: Stories are an immensely powerful method of communicating meaning in an effective and time-efficient way. Encourage your employees to share stories of good work they and their colleagues have done. This reinforces positive examples of values and behaviours and makes it more likely that they will be repeated.
- Have an effective process to convert ideas into action: It is relatively easy to get employees to generate ideas but converting them into reality often becomes more of a challenge. Use regular team conversations to identify, select and align action towards simple improvements that arise from the insights you gain by talking to each other.
Flint Spark Consulting are TakeON! partners. TakeON! uses an innovative and structured approach for implementing change within your organisation by changing mindsets and shaping the conversations that take place within your teams. Have a look at our TakeON! page to find out more.