By Gerard Murphy, 12th June 2019
We define “culture” as the behaviors that you accept and reward.
This is why we struggle to understand why organisations outsource culture to a HR team or middle management. You can empower and support this group of culture keepers, but in reality, the people most being judged in any team, are the leaders of the organisation. In our work of building high performing cultures, we know that the strength of the relationships within any given team are a huge driving force behind any team’s success.
As a leader, building a high performing culture is not something you can purchase. It’s not even something you have or get. It’s something you do. Cultures are behavior-driven. These behaviors are derived from a collective belief system that the group defines together. As we cannot see people’s thoughts, culture is evaluated by the behaviours you display. Another way to put this is “if you do, they do” or “if you don’t, they won’t”. Bringing behaviors to life is really the essence of our program.
Empathy plays a huge role in any given team. The performance of your team directly correlates to the strength of the relationships. Strength of relationships are built upon the depth of the conversations. What we’ve learnt is that empathy plays a huge role building deeper, stronger relationships. Whether it is working for the team, or working against the team, it is extremely important, especially in today’s business world. Empathy is like a muscle, it has to be trained to strengthen.
In this case it cannot be a set of dumbbells and a chin up bar that can help you, rather, it’s comes in the form of asking questions and taking an interest in the responses you receive. It has to start with questions because much of empathy is listening. It is not enough anymore for the people you lead to simply be heard. They need to be heard and feel that they are supported and cared about.
To put this into practice, identify a person in your team and take the time to get one on one with them (preferably, out of the office). Create a list of empathetic questions you can ask to build depth into the conversation. With a means to truly understand who they are and the challenges they face.