Workplace Culture – Creating Intentional Shifts

On our Friday, May 25th Workplace Fairness Luncheon, Jenn Lofgren with Incito Consulting led us in a conversation focused on shifting Workplace Culture. 

Jenn shared with us a case study of an organization that Incito Consulting worked with to shift culture to improve safety, communication and accountability.  This was a two pronged approach as Jenn embarked on supporting the leadership  and Marjorie and Michelle’s efforts concentrated on the employee group.   Leadership coaching, leadership skills training, employee interviews, a discovery report and a focus group meeting were utilized to bring awareness to the issues, gain acknowledgement and build understanding.  The discovery report revealed employees struggled with feeling safe and comfortable in their work environment and showed concern about the perceived lack of communication from leadership while leadership was seeking accountability and engagement from their employees and a focus on client satisfaction.   Acknowledgement of these issues and a commitment from leadership to address them was the first step in creating a shift.

With Jenn’s guidance the leadership group worked to address behaviours that were affecting communication, accountability and a return to a comfortable work environment.  The focus group was made up of employee sanctioned representatives from all areas of the organization.  A full day facilitated session with Marjorie and Michelle enabled the group to build understanding, move forward and brainstorm ideas to improve efficiency and client satisfaction.

A few curve balls were encountered along the way including a change in HR management, a change in leadership structure, new leaders and the late addition of a sister company.  Commitment began to slip and people began falling into old patterns when situations became challenging.  Looking back, opportunities for difficult conversations were overlooked and would have enabled a smoother transition forward.

The results of the culture shift were extremely tangible for this organization.  Profits were increased substantially, stress was reduced amoung leaders and accountability was improved.  Better-quality customer and employee relationships increased engagement and customer satisfaction and improved the reputation of this organization within the industry.

Leaders can learn from Scot Beckenbaugh

Toronto Maple Leafs player scoring goal agains...

Toronto Maple Leafs player scoring goal against Detroit Red Wings, Stanley Cup Playoffs, 1942 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When it comes to resolving disputes, leaders can learn from Scot Beckenbaugh.

There may be mixed feelings to the news of returning hockey this week, but one thing is for certain: we can all learn something from Scot Beckenbaugh, the mediator who managed the NHL talks in a frenetic and final 48 hours this weekend.

Define your role.

Beckenbaugh’s experience is in the business of negotiating labour disputes in a wide range of industries for the US Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. He does have extensive experience with sports negotiations, but his business is not hockey.  He has declined interviews and comments about the talks this week.

  • You can support good dispute resolution by making a deliberate decision yourself about when and how to get involved.  Support those with the authority who are most closely involved and have the expertise to own the content, the final decision, and the stories. Be transparent about your role.

Listen openly and critically.

Winnipeg Jets Defenseman and union negotiator Scott Hainsey told reporters that “Scot was great for a number of reasons…When it got to points where you didn’t know what to do next – or you had an idea but you didn’t know if it might upset the other side – you could go to him and talk to him about it and there was a way to work your ideas through a third party who was able to really help the process.”

  • Asking powerful and provocative questions and listening actively to the answers will help others clarify their thinking. You will learn a lot too, and when the decision is finally made, you will understand if and when it is the right one, and when it is necessary to step in.

Remain loyal to the process.

Over a 48 hour period and in marathon days Beckenbaugh held both sides to the process.  There was not enough trust for parties to meet face to face, so Beckenbaugh managed the process by shuttling between them, building trust in his engagement, and in the process of conciliation.

  • Decide on an appropriate process for reaching a resolution and hold everybody to it.  Even when you don’t have a ready answer you can demonstrate leadership by managing an effective process to get to one.

Providing ready answers and solutions is the easy part of being a leader. The mature and effective leader knows when to step back and how to empower others to reach their own conclusions. Active listening will aid understanding for all, and strategic choices about your role and the process will foster good long-term decisions.