FULL EPISODE TRANSCRIPT
Welcome back for episode 47 of Count Me In. I'm your host, Adam Larson and today's conversation features Mary Beth Hyland the founder and chief visionary for spark vision. Mary Beth talks to Mitch about the different strategies she implements to help organizations identify and close the gap between their current and ideal culture. Let's tune in now to hear her perspective on a healthy and thriving culture and what leaders can do to create and sustain these values and behaviors.
What is organizational culture to you and why do you believe that so important?
Organizational culture is such a complicated thing, but the way that I think about it is basically how things are done around here. So when people talk about their company, it sort of those norms and behaviors, the rituals and routines, what are the expectations that people have? It's also thinking about what is the emotional experience within your company. So how do you feel before you get to work while you're at work and after you leave? It was quite a dynamic thing to think about, sort of a short definition of what organizational culture is. but the way that I've sort of distilled it for the work that I do is I think about it in a formula. The formula that I use is values times, behavior equals culture, so that can take a lot of this intangible and start to make it feel like you can actually pinned some pieces of culture down. When you're thinking about values and you're thinking about behaviors and the reason that this is so incredibly important it is because it's ultimately going to greatly impact the way that people are engaged in their work, the productivity within your teams and your office overall, the loyalty that people have within the organization and ultimately how people feel their health is directly connected to an organization's culture as well. So investing in your company's culture and being intentional about really getting clear on what that definition means to that specific institution or organization, why it matters to them as as a company at large and as the individuals that make up that company, it's really critical in being able to create environments where people can thrive. My job as a workplace culture consultant is most of the time coming in and just being a really effective listener. Because the reality is the people who work there, they know exactly, exactly, exactly what they like to see change. They might not know what the solution is for that change, but they understand what the pain points are and they understand what's going well. So being able to identify not just where things need to shift, but wow, we're really effective when it comes to fill in the blank. So let's just say communication. So how can we make that even stronger and make that proven practice really go out deeper within the company.
So in your current role, you know, I'd like to go back to kind of what you were just talking about is being a good listener and while you're listening, and I'm assuming you watch the organization as well, what is it that really sticks out to you when you're looking at a healthy and thriving culture? What does that look like and how, have you ever worked with an accounting or finance organization that you knew just by looking and listening that things were going well?
Yeah, it's such an interesting question because every time I go into a company irregardless of the industry or the size or anything like that, everybody always seems to believe that what's going on there is really unique. And it's something that I probably have never experienced before and haven't seen before. So a lot of times when a company is thriving and doing really well, and this goes the same way, if you think about it in the opposite terms of they're not, so oftentimes these things aren't present, but when these things are present, it's apparent that things are, there's not as much of a lift as far as what are some intentional shifts that can be made for how people feel like they can thrive in that environment. So things like communication that is huge. It's amazing how many organizations, I believe that they're transparent and perhaps even have a value of transparency, but are making humongous decisions for the organization that directly impact the people who are going to be implementing that work and never involve them in the process or even loop them in to that as something that's happening. So communication is one of the key pillars to having, a culture where there's loyalty and trust. And those are also huge component. So, right, the trust factor is directly a dotted line connection to, to the communication, but really having people say what they mean and mean what they stay and then following through on those things. So there's this excellent book called the speed of trust, that really talks about how we have these, investments in trust that we're constantly making these small deposits of trust. And then another, another part is, is an organic goes directly connected. So dot line and even a hard line connected to trusting communication is being able to have to may feedback, being able to have conversations where people are able to bring to the table where their frustrations are, where they feel like change is necessary and have it received an open mind versus a, this is how it's always been done. Just get with the program or get outta here.
My next question is going to kind of build off of what you were just talking about and combined two different ideas here. So as we're looking to build or you know, see this thriving culture, what can leaders do, whether it's top down or bottom up, when the vision, their behavior is in line with the culture they want, but maybe there's others in the organization that just aren't buying in and they really want them to it's not just to get out, but what can they do to make sure that everybody involved in the organization is behaving in that way and ultimately, you know, will enable the organization to sustain this cultural success and their strategy for the future?
Well, I have a a little bit of a clarifying question for you before I answer because there is, it is, there is a differentiator between people who just aren't bought in and people who are toxic. So I'm happy to answer both. What I'd love to know if you're interested in a specific, you know, somebody who just sort of needs to be convinced versus someone who's creating extremely negative experiences in the workplace.
Very fair question and good point. I'm really more interested in the individual who maybe isn't fully bought in, in my opinion, if somebody were toxic, as you said earlier, it's kind of like, you know, jump on board or this isn't the right position for you. But if somebody is doing their work and maybe they're just not fully bought into the culture that somebody is trying to establish, how can you lead that person in the right direction so the organization goes in the right direction?
That's a great question. And I will say that being that this is what I do day in and day out, that is always the case. If you go into an organization that has more than five employees, there are going to be folks who don't understand why this matters. There's going to be folks who don't understand why this shouldn't be something that's invested in. And there are certainly going to be folks who aren't on board and take a little more time to get them to sort of it create that breadcrumb trail to help them know that this is powerful and meaningful. So there's a, there's several ways. So it really depends on your audience. One of the ways, and particularly for this industry, one of the ways that can be really effective is looking at what is the cost of having a culture that's thriving versus having a culture that's floundering. And so you can look at it from more of an analytical data driven perspective, if that is what sort of is the hangup of the initial mindset. So you can look at things like your turnover rate, what does it cost you to onboard a new person, right? All the training, all of the time, everything you're invested in, bringing new people in. What is it taking your team? as far as their energy and their time when it comes to things that are just not working well in the culture. So when we go back to things like communication, so what is it costing you guys or the whole institution at large, when people aren't on the same page, how much time is that and what is the breakdown of that time when it comes to dollars? And so oftentimes with folks who aren't onboard with the emotional aspect of the rewards and value of getting people engaged in understanding the impact of that with productivity and loyalty and all the things I mentioned when we started the conversation, you can get it down to dollars and cents and that can be sometimes the most effective starting point. Now if folks are in that bucket and they don't need to see the dollar and cents. They just need to understand like, why does this even matter in the first place? What I will do is talk to people about really getting in touch with them themselves from an emotional level and starting to do some more reflections in their own lives of environments where they felt like they wanted to be and environments where it was a painful experience to be in and having them kind of drop into more of that heart-centered space, more of that intuitive space within themselves because everybody knows everybody has had an experience where they felt like they belonged somewhere where they felt like they had some kind of intention or purpose and connection. What did that was at work or within their communities or in their families or elsewhere, and then everybody has had some kind of experience where it's they felt the opposite and if you can walk people through that from more of an emotional knowing, a more of an emotional understanding, people can start to make the connection that that's not separate or in a different category simply because it's a workplace and how much more we will get from folks feeling a sense of belonging, feeling that connection and knowing that they're ultimately going to be the greatest advocates for your organization because simply there way of engaging in their energy, right? We do so much advocating or talking against our organizations when simply like on the weekends, right? Or at night when we come home from work and we debrief on how our days were or people ask us what's going on and those things have a significant impact. They have a significant impact. It's not just what's happening when you're there in the nine to or the six to eight or whatever hours it is that folks are working because people know. People actually deeply know that this is important. It's just getting them to a place of recognizing and reminding them of that knowing.
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