The massive risk of good cultures

//The massive risk of good cultures

An article from our Cultural Intelligence newsletter…

We were running a culture workshop a while back and it was clear the group, consisting of staff and leaders, was highly involved. As we focused on an issue that emerged from our UGRs Stock Take (a tool that identifies the real culture of a workplace) one staff member (let’s call him Graeme) shared a view with the entire group that was clearly difficult for him.

After confirming with Graeme that it was indeed difficult for him to share this view, we stopped the discussion to share a vitally important insight:

To make progress on the culture front, we need to experience 1% to 2% levels of discomfort. Playing it safe all the time means that we are staying within the confines of the existing culture. 

Recently, Steve was running a full-day workshop for a team where the culture is really positive. To their credit, they wanted to further explore their culture with a view to making sure it continued to improve. In effect, they were fighting against complacency.

At the conclusion of the day, Steve invited the team in small groups to identify one or two questions they’d like answered prior to the day concluding. One group devised this question:

So Steve, given you’ve worked with us for a full day, what are your observations about the UGRs within our group?

Steve shared his view that one UGR of the group was ‘Having a laugh is important’.

He then went on to explain Graeme’s story and observed that he felt no one over the duration of the day had ventured into the 1% or 2% level of discomfort. He went on the proffer that a UGR of the group was ‘Around here, group dynamics are more important than broaching tougher issues.’

This is a real risk with teams that are characterised as positive and productive. And it’s something that ought to be carefully considered…

Steve Simpson is an international speaker, author and consultant who works with companies across the globe to help them understand and strategically improve their corporate culture www.steve-simpson.com. Professional Speakers Australia recently bestowed the Australian Educator of the Year Award to Steve