Pass or Fail? How will you do on the Culture Test?
“Failure to plan on your part does NOT constitute an emergency on my part.”
I saw that sign up on the outside of a cubicle wall at a business recently. It ruined my day. I knew the culture of this company was really broken.
Yes, it’s just a saying. It’s just sarcasm. But to me it’s cause for great alarm. If this sign popped up in my company everything would stop until we got to the bottom of the issue and the investigation could likely result in needing a new team member.
Harsh? I know. But…stick with me.
Picture this. You’re at your desk at 7:00 PM. You have a deliverable for a client in the morning and for a variety of good reasons you are still working on it and will be for a while.
You just got off the phone with your spouse who isn’t thrilled about you working late.
A co-worker peeks into your office space with a request for your help. They’re in a panic. They should be. You could tell that they really need your help.
What do you do? You have a tough deadline. Helping your co-worker will add a couple hours to your night.
What are some of the possible assumptions and thoughts you may have? Your co-worker is lazy and a screw-up. Why didn’t they ask for help earlier? I don’t have time for this. Let’s teach them a lesson and let them sink in the deep end.
These thoughts and assumptions usually come from emotion and may or may not be valid.
We’re looking for a New Leadership Normal. The championship culture response goes something like this:
I trust my colleagues to be operating under the same level of the value creation principle as I do. Therefore, if they are asking for my help, they need my help to create that value. What do we need? Let’s do it. Let’s work it out.
This response is a calm one. It’s based on solid principles. It doesn’t waste time on blame and frustration.
With this sense of calm you can do the right thing. It might not mean dropping everything and working all night. And if it does, that decision is reached by thinking through the emergency.
Of course, you analyze the situation after the results are achieved and look for ways to avoid the crisis mode when possible. Some teaching and coaching may be necessary. That’s a good thing.
To do this week: Think of scenarios in which your work intersects with others. How do you and the others approach these intersections? What does this say about your culture?
Let me know how it’s going. Click the “comments” box below to participate in an on-going discussion via LinkedIn.