After logging in, going through the various multi-factor authentication processes of my laptop, I stepped out and asked one of my team members, “How’s your mood today?” She was taken aback……
How often do we take note of our own mood and that of our collective team members’? Are we in touch with what’s happening to us or do we just turn so mechanical and cold to ourselves and the other, the moment it is 8.30 am on a weekday?
Behaviour Defines Culture
And mood determines how we behave. I have done no research on this, (might, in the near future), but I am pretty convinced that our mood sets the direction for our behaviour and that in turn, partially, defines the culture that is being formed in our team and organization. And if I continue to build this continuum, this culture determines how much people like to come to work, and (if I still continue) ‘how’ they come to work may impact how well they do what they come to work for!! And how well they perform, determines how much they perform with their thought feelings and actions in alignment.
What Do I Elicit?
Over the years, I am sure you’ve experienced a variety of managers. I would like to highlight the processes that they trigger, not so much focus on the style of these managers. I have worked with quite a few leaders, and here would illustrate two set of processes that get set in motion based on one’s style:
‘Two Timers’; A leader who so daringly straddles two universes at the same time! In a group setting, eg: while chairing the Executive Committee Meeting of his organization, speaks the right language viz: collaboration, empowerment, ethics of the highest order (as if there are levels!), etc. And in a one: one setting, unveils his nefarious plans of deceit, of manipulations, of schemes (as in scheming) of deals. I’ve seen this unleash, suspicion, mistrust, fear, jealously, nepotism and more toxic wastes that can create a debilitating pathology in the system/organization. People ‘discharge duties’ within the designated workday and are relieved to return home. Not sure how ‘well’ they return home.
‘Pragmatic or Realist’; Someone who strives to work & live with the alignment of thoughts, feelings, and action. He/she is not perfect, however, it seems real. Shares with team members and colleagues, things AS ARE. Chairs meetings with an assumption that people are mature enough to know things AS ARE and competent enough to run an agenda once vision is shared (if not co-created). I’ve experienced trust, respect, co-creation, ownership, joy, spontaneity, autonomy and flow in such circumstances. People seem to own their objectives, and don’t need reminders on unfinished tasks. Team members are not afraid to fail, new ideas germinate, performance is achieved, and HOW!
Volunteering & Delegating
We’ve read about delegation; down, up, sideways, etc. and, that responsibility and authority both need to be handed over when delegating. How beautiful it would be if a leader offered to step in and complete a particular task if the team member needs to attend to something in the family? What we typically see, is, that task being allocated to another team member. But, just imagine what message will be sent out if the leader himself/herself completes that task? It’s about setting the tone; not just setting the pace for performance. I am there for you.
Affiliative Processes Are Mushy!
“Alok, please don’t use the word ‘FEEL’ in your emails and spoken communication. It should always be ‘THINK’ when you write or speak in the office”!! Alarmed?? Well, this was a directive, not a suggestion that I received early on in my career from my manager. And that too from an HR Professional. I am so glad that I did not pay heed to him. This whole ‘Fun at Work’ concept, I think came into our work lives because we curbed feelings in the normal course of work! And a whole new industry developed due to curbed/suppressed feelings! What an irony!
And mind you, being yourself, being affiliative, does not mean that you won’t get things done!
Marathon & Sprint
There are companies that live quarter by quarter. The resultant culture is that of hyperactivity, frenzied actions, ‘let’s get it done at all costs ‘. Work will happen, for sure, but how strong is your backbone? Will your team/organization be able to run a marathon ever? Question is are we willing to build a sense of commitment that delivers the current and ensures tenacity & endurance to last. It’s not an either/or.
The easiest thing to suggest and tough to execute.
On joining one of my past organizations, on day two or three, I was asked to fire someone in my department. “He has become fixed furniture. Not fit for purpose”, were the terse words of the MD to me. I almost asked him “who was the carpenter?” In two years’ time, this same MD was handing my team member the ’Employee of the Year’ award at a glittering ceremony, and mind you, this award was cutting across all the business divisions and enabling functions.
“What did I do? Nothing alone, but in conjunction with the MD and the concerned employee. I asked the MD to give me 6 months with my team member, and, informed the employee that we will experiment with something”
I took away and onto myself tasks that compelled him to show his weakest side to key stakeholders (he didn’t like it as he thought I was taking away limelight from him, little did he know that I was securing his job!) And ensured we maximize his contributions in areas that he was outstanding in. (and yes, in the background, we worked on developing areas that he could better at). So, holding off pressure from your team for a bit, negotiating with the system/authority, recalibrating goals and expectations to ensure performance!
Building a culture of care, concern & respect is not tough. It just seems out of reach since we have been so hardcoded that WORK and LIFE are distinct. And we have also been taught that if you work from feelings, nothing gets done and that people take you for a ride. Well, I have enjoyed this ride!