What's the normal in your organisation?
In your team culture?
What's tolerated, ignored, complained about, moved on from in meetings when no-one's arrived at a succinct and accountable solution?
What's the loop that people keep getting stuck in that they can't seem to find a way out of?
Are you and your leaders holding true to the vision you're creating together and consistently resolving anything that doesn't align with that or match the values you've agreed upon?
Or are you expecting your team to stretch into new levels of accountability while you're frustrated with how long they're taking or the way they're going about it?
NORMAL IS HABITUAL
There is a 'normal' within your organisation that has been accepted and is adhered to, not through intention, but from shared habit. It's often a silent acceptance, but it keeps costly workarounds hidden and enables finger pointing at others for change.
Setting a new goal isn't enough on its own to inspire a new normal.
We can push, attempt to motivate, offer rewards or even consider punishment for not achieving. We can connect people with their 'Why' and emotionally engage them, but if the environment around them is functioning at the temperature of the old normal, the nature of being human is that people will often return to what's comfortable and familiar at the sacrifice of growth and success.
To elevate culture to a new normal, an environment must be created that demonstrates and communicates what is expected of the people within that culture and embeds the belief that they can do it too.
YOU CAN DRIVE
It's like sitting in the back seat of the car for all those years. We see our parents and caregivers driving, we look out the window and see everyone else driving, forming an unconscious belief and expectation that we will drive too. Our environment tells us it's normal, we live into that future without even trying.
Even if we put the driving test off for a few years or fail the test once or more, we know that we will eventually drive - there have been structures, conversations and plans made around it consistently over time, causing us to embed a habit of thinking that aligns with the outcome that we will drive.
Similarly, creating a new normal requires leaders to demonstrate the thinking and behaviour over time that aligns with that new normal, elevating the performance temperature of the organisation so that people see, hear, feel and experience what's possible for them, forming a belief that they can do it too.
A COMMON MISTAKE
A mistake I see many leaders and managers make is that they tell their people what's required to make change within their teams and across the business, but stop there and rarely publicly demonstrate the learning curve that needs to be traveled to fulfill on the cultural and financial vision.
It's important for leaders to remind themselves that they don't need to have all the answers, and instead bravely lay down new roads so their people understand how to execute new action, that there will be challenges, but if they keep going they will arrive at a new and exciting destination.
LEADERS GO FIRST
When people look around and:
- See their leaders collaborating with each other, and having honest conversations to get to, and resolve, core issues, they will do it too;
- Witness their leaders demonstrating 'feedback on the fly' with powerful results, they will do it too;
- Hear their leaders leveraging their strengths and powerfully owning their shortfalls or mistakes, they will accept it as the norm and step toward it as well.
If we talk about a new normal, but don't consistently demonstrate it for our people with honesty, courage and a commitment to continuous improvement through practice, we're telling them they should jump in the car and drive, even though the car is unroadworthy, the road ahead is unpredictable and unsafe, and everyone else is going in another direction.