All businesses today operate within one or more recognizable ecosystems. Ecosystems look like patterns of regular exchanges between individuals and organizations through which they acquire new customers (lead generation), generate revenue (selling products and services), and reduce their operating expenses (outsourcing, automation, and fractional work arrangements). Exchanges can be information-based, currency-based, or relational. All three types of exchanges can be valuable contributors to your business’s success.
I’ve been talking to a lot of people lately about their return to office plans. Returning to the office is a major organizational change after 15 months of working from home for most of us.
The people I’m talking to are fairly well dialed in on the tactical, practical aspects. They’ve thought through vaccination status, PPE stations, masks, and social distancing protocols. But they often haven’t thought about what this return might mean for their culture. Most of them don’t have a good read on what their employees think about returning to the office. It got me thinking about the role of curating culture during organizational change. In the case of this particular change, I think it’s important to focus on communicating early, often, and generously.
Every organization has a culture, whether the leadership team has tried to build it intentionally or not. That culture sets the tone for everything that happens within the organization, from who is hired and how people are rewarded and retained to customer satisfaction and ultimately, profit. The good news is you do have a choice to build yours intentionally.
Something isn’t quite right in your organization. Maybe revenue isn’t where you’d like it to be despite a significant increase in your marketing spend, or voluntary turnover is a lot higher than it used to be. You may not yet know for sure what is “off,” but you know something is up.
It might be tempting to scrutinize the activities of your sales team or human resources, but the truth is what’s off could be any number of things.
“Trauma decontextualized in a person looks like personality.
Trauma decontextualized in a family looks like family traits.
Trauma in a people looks like culture [bodies of culture].”
~Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother’s Hands
The reason we call our inclusion and belong model a trauma-informed model is because we recognize that trauma exists not only in individual leaders and team members, but in the culture of the organization itself.
We’ve talked a lot about the importance of instilling inclusivity and equity as core values in your organization: what that looks like and how to lead with inclusion and equity in mind.
And you’ll see it all over the internet: the benefits organizations can realize when they focus on increasing inclusion and equity in the workplace as well as programs to develop the required mindsets, skill sets, and behaviors. Many organizations pay lip service to diversity, equity, and inclusion as core values but few organizational cultures today otherwise manifest those values in a visible way.
PART 2: Be-Do-Know
This blog is the second of a series of articles on inclusion and belonging and our BRAVE Cultures™ model.
In part one of this series, we outlined Kadabra’s Inclusion and Belonging Model. It operates at the personal, interpersonal, and institutional levels. You can work through it one at a time, or simultaneously.
In addition to these three levels, each level uses three lenses:
- Who do you want to BE, as both a person and a leader,
- What do you want to DO to effect change, and
- What do you need to KNOW or learn in order to manage the changes needed
This year we’ve seen powerful movements for social justice. Many brands have jumped on those bandwagons only to fall off (or get pushed off). One reason social justice messages aren’t landing well with organizations’ audiences is a perceived lack of authenticity on the part of the brand. If your organization isn’t solidly walking their talk, it’s time to think about shifting your mindset from looking good to doing good.
I left three Fortune 500 companies in my corporate career because of misalignments between my values and how the companies were operating. In two of the cases, what I was asked to do was unethical at best and very shady business practices. In one case, I was asked to do something illegal. I refused to sacrifice my values each time, choosing to leave each company in search of a more ethical place to work.
What I didn’t do was stand up to the unethical business practices.
I walked away and kept my story to myself (mostly). Which is why the story of Julia Bond, an assistant designer at Adidas, struck a deep chord in me.