The first sign of a bad culture in a company is: pettiness.
Yes Pettiness. Big problem because it is mostly left undiagnosed until it’s too late.
Petty gossip, petty opinions, petty cribbing all these are signs of the beginning of a bad culture. Companies must focus on nipping pettiness at the bud rather than focusing on just incorporating rules to blanket the pettiness.
Rules are good. I for one am a great fan of rules. It gives stability and to an extent predictability. But rule without a conscience is as good as having no rules. The strong good intention behind every rule must be solidly backed up by the way it is implemented. Then we won’t have to worry about the loopholes in the rule or fear it being misused.
Coming back to the point of pettiness, I strongly believe that the little things that we tend to ignore or tolerate are the things that come back some day to bite us. Pettiness is one such thing, it has a butterfly effect. One cribber is enough to spoil the morale of an entire team. One petty gossip is enough to demotivate a whole bunch of people. One petty judgment about a person lightly thrown may hurt his ego so bad that it might have a cascading effect on his attitude towards people around him and his work. It’s not the responsibility of a company to mother its employees. But when a company is laying its first blocks of culture, it must remember to handle the pettiness within the blocks of the company i.e. the employees sensitively and promptly. Ignoring or tolerating it is not an option. Judging it is even worse.
In a time when everybody is driven to reach new heights, when everybody is eager to achieve greater things, it is hard to even stop and think about how we really are growing.
- Are we stepping on somebody else in our hurry to grow?
- Are we burning bridges with prospective friends and allies?
- Are we being insensitive to the point of being cruel?
- And due to our occasional pettiness are we blocking somebody else’s path because we are unable to grow?
These must be some of the things each employee must have in his checklist for the day. Bring some perspective into work. Encourage conscious working. Appreciate good work and most important conscious work. The more good behavior and attitude is encouraged and appreciated the more it is cultivated. With more practice it becomes a habit. That way good culture is automated.
My Top tips for a good culture
I took a long break from writing. Let me clarify, it was not intentional.
First it was due to me taking a break from work (intentional but definitely not one of my best decisions), then it was me having a nervous breakdown as a result of a rare and strange sounding auto-immune disease named GB Syndrome. After a series of breaking (yes, there was a day when I even broke my bones, duh! obviously I had a fracture), recuperating and soul searching, here I am back with more health, more happiness and much more life in me than ever before to do what I love most doing, writing.
Before my health scare episode all I knew was that people get strange diseases and they suffer. It was always somebody else’s story, never mine. I did not realize that it could be anybody’s story including me. Now that I have deduced that it can be anybody’s story let me begin my point on emotional detachment.
We all have our sad, happy and meh stories. What do we do with it? Do we relive it over and over? Do we wallow in self-pity? Do we just think of it as just another stepping stone for our progress?
All through the year my story had different versions. Same story coloured with different feelings and emotions.
Version 1: Self pity
Version 2: Fear and Insecurity
Version 3: Relief and Happiness (of overcoming the disease)
Version 4: Pride (silly notion that I survived it all by myself, which is very far from the truth)
Version 5: Knowing and Peace
Version 6: Detached from all feelings
Did you notice how many versions I had before I could finally detach all feelings from the story and say it as a third person’s story? Its only when you remove all emotional attachment towards your story that you can see the real moral of the story.
You learn lessons from your experiences when you detach yourself emotionally from it. This is the only way that has worked for me. My cure was almost instantaneous the moment I did that!
Now, how do you think this emotional detachment helps in our professional lives?
Emotional detachment doesn’t mean you don’t work with passion and dedication. It just means you don’t invest your feelings in the results/outcome. (Sounds very similar to the line from Bhagavad Gita right? 🙂 I thought so too)
Let me give you an example.
You have worked hard on your presentation. You feel like you have moved mountains to get the most accurate data for your work. Now you go to the meeting and you get a totally unexpected negative feedback. You are asked to change nearly half of it. Would your reaction change according to your feelings?
Let’s say you are angry how will you react? How will you react if you are disappointed and sad? Will you become defensive? Will you feel totally unappreciated? Will your facial expressions change? Will you pout? Will you lose interest in the meeting? Will you immediately switch to self-pity self-talk mode?
Do you notice the array of feelings you have for the same situation?
The answers to the above leads to my last question, does attaching feeling to the situation help you to be more efficient?
Now let me show you the same situation from an emotionally detached place, a place where you temporarily divorce your feelings. Your boss is unhappy with your presentation. After the initial shock (because you still think you have done an exceptional job) you make a conscious decision that, you’ll be emotionally detached.
So, instead of pouting, getting angry, getting disappointed, you take a step back and think of this presentation as somebody else’s work.
Now, listen to what your boss says, does it make sense? If no, then won’t you be in a better mental state to put forth your thoughts and convince him? Won’t you be better equipped to take in constructive feedback? Won’t your work be better than it ever was? And won’t the meeting atmosphere be more peaceful and effective than the otherwise confronting and defensive atmosphere?
When I answered these questions I felt I would be a better professional if I could detach myself from the results and learn to respond to the situation instead of reacting to what “I thought” was the wrong outcome of that situation.
Do ponder over this, and do let me know your thoughts on whether this detachment thing makes sense or not. I would be very glad if you could share your experiences of how you handled high voltage situations by being calm and saint-like 🙂