Sunday, April 19, 2015

Can you Choose your “Business Mood”?

Decide on how you will change your behaviors and workplace environment and then act.

If culture is like an organization’s “EQ,” then the business mood is perhaps like its “facial expressions,” somehow tell you what’s going on in the organization with a quick view, to assess business’s “healthiness” or “happiness” level. How does individual mood interact with business mood, though? And can you choose the mood, either at a personal level or business level?

There are differences between the work environment (business mood) and company culture. A company's culture, which is heavily engrained and implicit and not directly perceptible, is also very hard to change and changes slowly if at all. Work environment, which is on the surface and easy to see and measure and feel, is also relatively easy to change - even in days or weeks. Anyone in the organization can begin to change their work environment! And because organizations look to and talk about and mimic their organizational managers and leaders, it is these groups (particularly the first line/middle-level managers) that have a lot of power to influence the environment quickly and substantially.

Self-diagnoses the business moods: What are the behaviors that you can see? How would you describe the prevailing mood? Lack of trust in management? Work overload? Lack of clarity or direction? Unclear or rapidly changing priorities? Continual firefighting? Ambivalence? Lack of teamwork? Poor communication or silo thinking? What are the contributing environmental factors and behaviors? Slow or unclear priorities, strategies or decision processes? A sea of administrative bureaucracy? Poor or inconsistent communication down or across the organization? A disconnected or distant layer of management or leadership? A lack of recognition or honest feedback or a disconnect between recognition and performance? What are the needed changes in behavior, process, communication, accessibility, engagement, approach? Do you inspire open conversations about the work environment?

Make constructive conversations about the working environment an open discussion in the organization. Take away the stigma and fear - proactively ask questions, challenge your own views, invite opinions and ideas. Find people embedded in the organization that is willing to tell you what they think. Tune into the nonverbal - watch how people work, act, respond. Learn what others think and feel. Be connected and tuned into your organization on many levels. People will not always be in the mood to listen to you. If you change the environment in which you like them to listen to you, however, whether someone listens or not can only be influenced. You can't make them listen, generally speaking. Indeed, sometimes an emphasized silence can be the most powerful way to get people's attention. What perhaps has to be clear is (i) what's in it for them if they listen? (ii) what is the nature of the conversation? Are they being told something, sold something, or being asked to co-create something? Are you speaking to one person or many? The meaning of your communication is the response you get so that being the case, what is it within you and your delivery of a message that needs to change to cause them to choose to listen to you? What are your expectations of the other person/people as an audience? What judgments are you attaching to them? Sometimes asking a better question of yourself before attempting to have people listen will produce the result you are seeking.

Decide on how you will change your behaviors and workplace environment and then act:  Compliment your actions with a few careful explanatory words without excuses or criticism or focus on the past - let the organization know that you are doing something different and why! Leaders are real when they can openly admit when change is needed. Actions, are incredibly clear and very consistently interpreted and send messages far more efficiently and effectively than any amount of words. Words alone are only crude tools of communication and terribly inefficient at conveying the feeling of a message. Their interpretation is quite varied from person to person and when overused or not complemented with actions, words quickly become rhetoric or noise.

And finally, your mood - If you have this kind of challenge ahead of you today - to listen to the organization - to change your behavior - to try something new - to act, to inspire positive change in those around you…It's absolutely possible to choose your mood even if you catch yourself feeling flat or low. Catching yourself doing it through third position observation and naming, claiming your mood enables you to then decide the mood you want to have. You can change the mood by changing your physiology - going for a walk/run - or by changing your internal self-talk (meditation, mantras, positive affirmations).


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