Cultural Transformation Starts with Changing an Individual’s Thoughts
As a consultant tackling cultural and transformational changes in organisations, the following saying couldn’t sum up my personal ‘why’ any better:
“When you change the way you think, you change the way you feel. When you change the way you feel, you change the way you act [behaviour]. When you change the way you [behave] you change your life [workplace culture]. It all starts with changing the way you….”
So how do you change the way you think, let alone implement changes on a big, broad scale in an entire organisation?
Organisations commonly start with looking at its values, conducting a gap analysis of a defined desired culture and how it compares currently to its actual culture, facilitating engagement surveys with elaborate results, presentations, and (sometimes) fancy tech to show said results — all of which cost time and resources, and all before starting the actual work on thinking differently.
These are all valid and reasonable steps, no question…
But what if I told you that in just a few hours, I can change the way you think? Change the way your whole team thinks?
I’ve spent the better part of 20+ years changing the way I think. From diving into self-help books and talk therapy to earning a degree on the human condition at work; to being a recipient and qualified practitioner of business coaching; to going through countless leadership diagnostics and development courses, all of which taught me that change starts with self-awareness — I’ve experienced these things so I know I’m a well-qualified recipient to speak on this topic.
Recently, I ran a leadership workshop with an executive team. Prior to the workshop, the CEO had confided with me, “Our business is failing because our sales team doesn’t have the right mindset. We are losing customers, and we’re not onboarding nearly enough new ones. I’m really worried. How is this workshop going to help?”
He’s not alone. Most of my conversations with CEOs and corporate leaders revolve around challenges like his.
The good news is that there is a proven and more efficient way to fix it. And that’s exactly what I helped him achieve.
After our session, I received lots of amazing feedback:
- Something has lifted!
- We really needed that, and the topic and timing couldn’t have been better.
- A fun process, but no one can hide or deny their own emotions/feelings.
- I thought a lot about my management style directly following. I realise that I need to change how I work if I want a better team result.
- I’ve noticed an instant shift in the executive team — we’re more approachable and talk kindly to each other.
- 5 gold stars. The best workshop I’ve ever been a part of.
So how did we get such a startling and fast result of changing one’s thinking?
We played cards.
Yup, you read that right. We played cards.
The Emotional Culture Deck is a game to nudge changes in the way you and your team (or organisation) think.
“But how do we do that, Emma?“ you ask.
Well, not to give all our cards away (pun intended), the base principle is to ask people to not change how they think but, in fact, describe how they need to feel in order to be successful at work.
We provide our (heavily researched and tested) cards to assist people to distil this for themselves first and as a team second.
The act of doing so is derived from the age-old psychology technique of journaling. If you’ve ever been to talk therapy, or know someone who has, you’re likely familiar with the therapist encouraging you to write down what’s going on in your mind. This is called transference. When transference takes place, it becomes about what’s on the page (or, in our case, the card). It’s not within us anymore.
- We’re likely to feel less vulnerable because ”‘It’s just a card, not me.”
- We’re more willing to share why it holds meaning.
- Trapped feelings within us that we can’t (or won’t) articulate change the way you act, which takes us back to the headline of this blog.
So if you want to change the culture in your organisation, start by changing the way you think — but not before playing a friendly game of cards to ask how you feel.
At Number 8 Consulting, we believe that investing time and money to uncover what feelings help you sink or swim is key to creating change.
One team at a time.
For this reason, we have partnered with riders&elephants to bring our clients the Emotional Culture Deck, a card game designed to help provide leaders with an insanely simple card-based tool for structured face-to-face conversations about workplace culture, feelings, and employee experience.
- Download a free PDF version of the deck here.
- Download the Emotional Workshop Plan for free here. (I can facilitate this workshop for you and your teams if you want a helping hand.)
- Complete The Emotional Culture Online Masterclass course here.
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