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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.

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Is this really how NLP is being taught? Sack the NLP trainers!

A colleague recently told me they had developed a negative perception of NLP.  Naturally, I could always suggest he can change his perception at anytime, as he alone can choose his map of the world.  That might be ‘bad’ NLP which would serve only to re-inforce his already negative perception.

Being a curious sort I was eager to learn, “How did he achieve this perception?”  By listening it became clear he had seen and heard folk who had received a limited amount of training in NLP telling other people they could understand how they were thinking and if they were telling the truth or not.  Becoming even more wantonly curious I asked how could these folk make such determinations?  Apparently, the answer lies in the direction your eyes move!  Well, I nearly fell off my chair!  Oh dear dear dear!  Whoever trained these folk in NLP really does deserve to be sacked and have their training credentials obliterated!  What utter nonsense!!!

Is it any wonder the field of NLP suffers in this way when we have ‘trainers’ with such limited understanding out there.  Is it time to press the reset button on the training of NLP Trainers and so called Master Trainers?  If this is the outcome they are achieving the NLP Trainers are accountable…there’s that word again from my previous blog post! Curious?

Ok, so what is it about the eyes and their movements that can lead people to believe they can tell the inner workings of your very soul?  The simple and honest answer is, absolutely nothing at all! For people to leave an NLP workshop and have that as their understanding suggests the delegates have been ripped off and the trainer needs to refund their delegate’s money because they have not been trained in NLP!

Eye Patterns are a small part of a much larger topic called Representational Systems within the field of NLP.  Encompassing Body Language, Gestures, Posture, breathing patterns, vocal qualities (pitch, tonality, tempo, timbre etc) and the use of word predicates.  Eye patterns are one of many cues you can use to build an understanding of how the person you’re communicating with represents their experience to themselves and then how they communicate their perception of that experience to the outside world.

Do they do this is in a Visual fashion, an Auditory fashion, a Kinaesthetic fashion, Olfactory, Gustatory or do they prefer a dissociated non-sensory Digital manner?  All you can hope to achieve is to put a few pieces of the jigsaw together and then aim to match or mirror their preferences with the aim to build rapport with them.  There is nothing in Representational Systems that gives anyone the ability to determine if another person is lying.

A client I met once to discuss some influencing skills training for a team of business bankers asked if he could, paint me a picture of who I will see on the day? My natural response was to hand my notebook and all the flipchart pens from my rucksack and suggest he makes its as colourful and vibrant as he wishes.  He really went for it!

What would have happened if I replied by asking him to tell me first who was in the team and what their roles are and how long they have worked at the bank?

By receiving a visual cue I followed up and encouraged more visual behaviour.  This is Representational Systems in practise.  Had I followed up with an Auditory and Digital response to the visual cue I would have lost out, rapport would not have been built.  The skill I, as an NLP Trainer, wish my delegates to develop is to be able to respond unconsciously to the cues they receive from others so they can respond effectively.  By judging another person’s response as incorrect simply because it does not form part of a ‘normalised’ pattern is nonsense!  My colleague rightly developed a negative perception having been exposed to such ridiculous behaviour.

If like my colleague you have developed similar negative perceptions feel free to get in touch and I will aim to show you that you can form new understandings.  If you wish to know how NLP can be applied to the world of business and work to get the best levels of performance out of your team in a way that is respectful and ethical please get in touch also.

Finally, NLP was not created.  The foundations of the techniques and patterns were in existence long before the 1970’s when they were pulled together and labelled.  To understand this is important as it creates a sense that if people have been successful in creating change and influence for a much longer time than the last 50 years then the techniques and ideas that support that successful change and influence are credible.  Whether they are called ‘NLP’ or ‘CBT’ or whatever other TLA folk can create is irrelevant.  Change and Influence are fundamental to communication and our programmes are focussed on developing masters of change and influence at work.