What to Do When Nothing’s Normal

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What to Do When Nothing’s Normal

What do you do when nothing’s normal? How do you plan for the day-to-day, for the future, for what’s next? How do you build a culture when nobody can see the future?

In our August post, we talked about Redefining Normal and followed up by collecting more survey results through phone and online interviews. We’ve combined these findings with the data and information we’ve collected from decades of coaching, leadership development and change management experience, with an emphasis on our findings over the past 18 months. 

Indeed, the pandemic and its aftermath has made us all look at what we took for granted as normal, and wrestle with the realization that nothing will ever be normal again.

Yet the Resilient forge on despite the challenges,

and the Successful tap into shared knowledge and networks,

knowing that we are stronger together.

This month, we look more deeply at what leaders can do to build culture when nothing’s normal, exploring a model which takes an inside-out, outside-in approach. We don’t promise you answers, only more questions and updates on our findings so that together we can explore what to do when nothing’s normal.

An Inside-Out Perspective on Building Culture

Inside-Out: In this section, we look from the perspective of the individual, the leader and manager at all levels who sees directly how he/she/they can contribute individually to the culture.

In general, when individuals look through their own personal lens, there are three main motivators: 

  1. The mission-driven calling to work for a purpose, in alignment with their personal values;
  2. The burning desire for continuous learning and development which makes them better versions of themselves; 
  3. The passionate drive to do something new and bold which innovates and makes the world a better place in ways small and big.

Those who are mission-driven want to contribute in ways big and small to a cause in alignment with their values, a cause larger than one they can serve by themselves, a cause that can be addressed because they show up fully and regularly at work. They must feel like their companies, leaders, technology, and brand are in alignment with this sense of purpose.

To serve the needs of the Mission-Driven staff, leaders at all levels must provide:

  • Creation of a Common Platform which matters beyond the work
  • Brand Integrity and Authenticity
  • A Culture-First Mindset
  • Alignment between the Mission, the Vision and the Execution
  • Transparency and Authenticity
  • Clarity of Purpose in Thoughts, Words and Actions

Those who are Lifelong Learners want to be presented with challenges at work, the opportunity to excel at and learn from these challenges, with a source of light pressure to drive continuous improvement, never settling for mediocrity. 

To serve the needs of the Lifelong Learners, leaders at all levels must provide:

  • Access to Materials and Training
  • Accountability and Ownership
  • A Culture of Continuous Learning and Development
  • Guidance and Coaching on Educational Plan
  • Individualized Offerings
  • Rewards for Agility and Openness

Those who are Innovators are motivated by their desires to be creative, solve problems, and work on a variety of challenging tasks which make a difference. They are hungry for a fail-forward mindset and culture, as well as tangible opportunities to innovate and learn with the support of mentors, resources and the organization at large.

To serve the needs of Innovators, leaders at all levels must provide:

  • Access to Mentors, Sponsors and Resources
  • Assurance that Credit is Fairly Distributed 
  • Focus on Customer-driven Innovation Projects
  • Diversity of Perspectives and Experiences on Team
  • Inspiring Examples and Success Stories
  • Rewards for Innovative Ideas and Execution

An Outside-In Perspective on Building Culture

Outside-In: In this section, we look from the perspective of the leader or manager at any level, on what managers and leaders from any chair can do to facilitate the development of an organization’s culture.

In general, when individuals look through the lens of the team, organization, or community, there are three main motivators: 

  1. The socially-minded desire to connect with and trust in others. They crave a co created history along with traditions and continued progress toward common goals and including celebrations of success;
  2. The burning desire to leverage corporate influence and resources to collectively impact larger social, political, and environmental issues; 
  3. The passionate drive to advocate and lobby for more equitable rights, resources and opportunities for those less fortunate, less empowered and less enabled to succeed.

Those who are Community-Builders are motivated by the desire to create a safe, trusted and synergistic network focused on everything from developing and supporting each other to creating deep relationships and from providing empathy, camaraderie, fun and energy  to working as a team to deliver extraordinary results. Community-Builders are looking for a sense of belonging, a trusted and supportive network, and for opportunities to share experiences, celebrations and traditions together.

To serve the needs of Community-Builders, leaders at all levels must provide:

  • A Positive and Productive Culture which Celebrates Success
  • Clear Accountability and Metrics  
  • Resources and Support to Achieve Results
  • Sense of Fit and Belonging 
  • Connections between Community Groups and Members

Those who are Social Responsibility Advocates are motivated by the desire to leverage company resources and brand to deliver impact on social, environmental, and systemic challenges, to provide services to others in need, and to provide socially responsible leadership and financial support.  The corporate platform and brand provides opportunities to make a broader impact in many ways, including by serving the needs of local nonprofits, by supporting the fundraising efforts around climate change, or by providing resources for the disadvantaged.

To serve the needs of Social Responsibility Advocates, leaders at all levels must provide:

  • Partnerships and Ecosystems to Amplify Impact
  • Platform to Amplify Impact and Share Knowledge
  • Opportunities to Serve Social Causes of Interest
  • Alignment between Corporate Mission and Social Causes Supported
  • Respect and Support for the Daunting Challenges of Today  

Those who are Justice-Seekers are motivated by the desire to to witness equal opportunities around pay, recognition, and opportunity for all. Justice-Seekers would like to see open-minded leaders who respect and embrace diverse people in their thoughts, words and actions. Transparent, data-based conversations will help justice-seekers see the progress being made, and respect their leaders and organization overall.

To serve the needs of Justice-Seekers, leaders at all levels must provide:

  • Alignment on Values, Policies and Communications  
  • Equal access to Support, Coaching, Education and Resources
  • Systematic Approaches to the Recruitment, Retention and Advancement of Diverse Talent
  • Training on Unconscious Biases
  • Celebrate and Reward Diverse Thinking and Ideas
  • Transparent and Regular Reporting on progress to date

Bringing it Together: 

Whether you look through the lens of what you can do as an individual to shape culture personally, or look through the lens of the organization as a whole, take ownership and focus on making a difference, through the  conscious choice to evolve the culture, consistently and relentlessly.

Next month, we will create a how-to blog around building culture. As we continue to develop our content in Building Culture When Nothing’s Normal, your input is welcome through our survey, e-mail, or an interactive conversation.


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