Posted on Leave a comment

The Proactive Space: The Key to Culture Change

Looking back through my blogs it was about 5 years ago that I started to write about Collaborative Working, Accountability and The Proactive Space.  So, what has happened in the preceding 5 years to create a significant difference?

Predictably the challenge of creating collaborative cultures has become something many organisations believe can be achieved via digital transformation.

I’m not about to become a Luddite and reject the ability of technology to create a difference.  Well, then again, in these subjective areas perhaps I probably will.

There is a space for technology and this is not to be the driver of culture change.  Culture will shift when the interpersonal dynamics of the individuals involved shift.  Leading with the technological approach simply empowers individuals to wait for the technology to do the work.  All this is achieving is encouraging people to play the blame game, resulting in the system becoming accountable!

Proactive Space & Power Dynamics

I read, and shared, a post on LinkedIn about the unofficial organisational chart that exists in organisations.  The official organisational structure shows infomation including the number of layers of leadership and management, roles and responsibilities, job titles etc.  It does not show where power exists in the organisation.  Yes it does, I hear many shout!  Oh no it doesn’t… I repeat!

The power in organisations is nested within the relationship dynamics that exist between the employees.  There are numerous examples in the post I shared that show where power can exist.  No technological approach to creating culture change will come anywhere close to shifting the power dynamics that exist within employee relationships.

The Proactive Space embracing AccountabilityWhat caught my eye was the admission that ‘soft skills’ are the key to working with the unofficial organisational chart, not ‘hard skills’.  The post also suggested working on the ‘hard skills’ has not achieved much change in this context. Why is it the ‘soft skills’ are the hardest to master?  If the hardest and most difficult situations require the ‘soft skills’ creating a digitial transformation process will almost certainly achieve an even more negative culture.

Accountability & The Proactive Space

One important aspect of high performance the official organisational chart may show is where responsibility and accountability exist.  When there is an avoidance of accountability the dynamics of the unofficial organisational chart are driving the culture.  Do you change the organisational chart?  Do you get people together? Figuring out why employees avoid accountability above all else will unravel the negative dynamics. Changing the structure is the ‘hard approach’ getting people together, in contrast, is the ‘soft approach’.  The ‘Proactive Space’ model unravels the dynamics of the unofficial chart, hence, is the key to creating positive cultures.

This is challenging work and can get messy (there can be tears and lots of emotion) and consequently is the most efficient and effective way of resolving the negative dynamics of the unofficial organisational chart.  Resolving the power dynamics releases the potential for the cultural shift and, hence, the technological processes can have a chance of working.

Mastering the ‘soft skills’ is the key to creating a healthy culture and The Proactive Space is the key to mastering the soft skills.  If you really want to create a high performing culture, seems like, you want to work from the Proactive Space.

Posted on Leave a comment

To be Accountable…Or is that someone else’s job?

A common theme that emerges through our work with clients is a pattern of behaviour within teams where the behaviours associated with Red Energy tend to be given away or discounted.  By this we mean, challenging other team members around performance issues or unproductive behaviours.  Holding your colleagues accountable for their performance is an essential part of being a high performing team, as is being held accountable by others for your own performance.

When working with a company to improve performance we would typically run a couple of processes simultaneously to help identify underlying performance issues.  Starting with some behavioural profiling using our preferred C-Me Colour Profile we can build a picture of the behavioural preferences within a team.  At the same time we would have the delegates complete a team assessment survey to assess their performance based on Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team.

If we find the C-Me profiles suggesting that Red Energy appears to be the least preferred we will almost certainly find that ‘Avoidance of Accountability’ will also be the lowest score on the Lencioni survey.  The question is, are the two directly related?  Our experience would suggest they absolutely are.

The team wheel above shows a team where no team member has a first preference for Red Energy.  There are team members where Red Energy is a second preference with Blue or Yellow being the first preference.  The triangle opposite the team wheel shows the corresponding Lencioni scores showing the avoidance of accountability is the area with the lowest score.  The lowest score indicates this is a set of behaviours that the team do not feel they are particularly good at.

When a team is discounting the need to challenge each other on performance issues and prefer to wait on others or other teams to perform they are avoiding accountability for their own performance.  Will the team achieve great results is they are not holding each other accountable?

When we deliver follow-up sessions to explore this issue we can quickly dispel the belief that using Red Energy is counter-productive and is the only avenue to creating improved performance.  Our results, thus far, is that targeting the avoidance of accountability and linking these behaviours to a discounting of Red Energy has created a dramatic improvement in performance.

To find out more about how we can assist you develop greater accountability within your organisation please contact us.

Paul McGowran
listen@seekfirst.co.uk