Workplace Culture balances Change and Constants

I received a couple of emails following my last posting (Managers Create Culture), and taken altogether the gist of them was this:

“If I don’t have a comprehensive philosophy yet, like you have in Managing with Aloha, how do I start to define the workplace culture I want to foster as an Alaka‘i Manager? The variables can be so overwhelming, and I struggle to focus, and set my priorities.”

Hat’s off, shoe on, to Isaia

Do you know when those variables get overwhelming? When they aren’t actually yours. We managers have a way of inheriting and collecting periphery.

Here’s what I recommend instead. It’s still about articulating an all-you packaging of your values (which is Managing with Aloha at its core), but arriving at them in another way, one which concentrates on action connected to desired change and valued constants.

To paraphrase and add to a famous quote by Mahatma Gandhi:

Be the Change you wish to see in your world, while remaining devoted to your Constants.

We talk about change a lot, equating it with initiative, innovation and creativity, however we tend to forget those constants we have already invested in, constants which keep us grounded, confident, steady and sure.

So try this: Sit with a blank sheet of paper, and make a simple list of your purely instinctive, gut-check WANTS, writing them down under one of two sub-headings:

  1. MY CONSTANTS
    (your keepers: You have these, still want them, and will devotedly hold on to them)
  2. GOOD CHANGE
    (your goals: Assume you want these for good reason, so work on getting them!)

Your list should describe your future. Identify what you want it to be, so those wants can guide you forward. Be as specific as possible, for specific detail is more conducive to revealing action steps you can take.

Your values will provide the ‘why.’ When you can tap into it, ‘purely instinctive, gut-check’ wanting gives voice to your values — you’ll be able to read between the lines, and get clarity on what your values are all about, and not theoretically or historically, but right now, for today, and for ‘Imi ola— a creation of your best-possible future.

This might help you start your list… Fill in the blanks, remembering to then choose which column they go in, valued CONSTANTS, or desired CHANGE:
I want to work on ______, and not on _______.
I want to forge a partnership with _______, so we can work on __________.
I’d love to see the day that we _____________ all day long!
I want to keep learning about _____________, so we’ll be able to _________.

Bet you can take it from there!

The first step in articulating the workplace culture you want is usually to be more selfish — yes, selfish, as in self-aware. Focus is all about energy management: Self-manage (channel your energy) and self-lead (create fresh energy) before you presume to create workplace culture for anyone else. It evokes the oxygen mask theory: You can’t save anyone else when you can’t breathe either.

In clarifying your change and your constants, you define your stretch while holding on to your keepers. You also couple your form and function without interruption (i.e. your on-going productivity and business of life), for balancing Change and Constants is simply a way you sort through the clutter of life, and focus on what’s important to you.

For instance, here on Talking Story you often read postings where I seem to question, dabble, and experiment: I especially love 90-day projects as a gift-boxing of my still-tentative change. When I wrap up those projects, I weave them into my Ho‘ohana Story somehow, for my constants are about Aloha (defined here), Ho‘ohana (worthwhile work), and ‘Ike loa (intentional learning). Over time, my keepers in the MWA culture became the 19 values in my book, and the 9 Key Concepts. The early sentences on my List of Wants moved into statements like the 10 Beliefs and Core 21.

If you pull out your list every time you do a Weekly Review, you can revise it with constantly freshened relevance. When something no longer sounds like a Burning Yes, just cross it off the list and add what does.

Trust me: If you can make this simple process your new habit, your desired workplace culture will be steadily revealed to you. And remember…  You are Your Habits, so Make ‘em Good!

Your Change + Your Constants = Your Culture:

  • Write it down: Gut-check list your wants as either Constants or Change.
  • Create your future: Allow that list to set your priorities, and be your values-based focus.
  • Make it happen: Review weekly to self-manage and self-lead, and
  • Feel good about it: You’ll get a good grip on your best energies.
  • Share it: The Workplace Culture you champion will be the great result.

So turn this affirmation into a poster you look at daily:

I’ll be Change, and I’ll be Constant. I’ll be the Culture of my Future.

Write it on a post-it and tape it on the mirror where you brush your teeth each morning, then Ho‘ohana — make it happen.