Workplace Culture Tetris: Hacks to Win in Change Every Time

Workplace culture—the most over-used BS bingo phrase in the business world today. Right? Well, that’s what most people say. The topic is overly addressed, consultants are overpaid, and time is wasted because it’s really just a mysterious crapshoot—you can’t really figure people out, after all. The reality is that people seem like a mystery because they “can’t” be measured, and we all know that anything that can’t be measured can’t be managed. So, why worry about it?


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Organizations have turned to managing turnover and time-to-fill (a position) metrics. We’ve become creative in our compensation, giving employees unique recognition gifts, throwing big Christmas parties, and hosting golf tournaments. All of this is fine and appreciated, but let us not give up on the root cause of workplace culture failure: leadership in accountability and understanding.
There are concepts to learn and ways to operate that provide leaders with the ability to not only identify culture but also customize and celebrate it!

First, Know Your Folks

We’ve all taken a Meyers-Briggs, DiSC, or Strength Finder, and those tools are great for knowing ourselves. But what if we need to know about others? We can memorize all 10 of our team’s 4-letter MBTI or remember that Jan is a high D and Bill is a red; chances are, that’s not going to stick with us. Why is that?
Personal characteristics are important to be aware of, but as business leaders, what we really need to pay attention to are people’s work preferences. You can organize these work preferences on a couple different axes: order-tolerant to chaos-tolerant and team-driven to self-driven.
Now, let’s put this concept to work. How do individuals on your team handle a big announcement? Let’s say your department has been tasked with implementing a new software into your daily work. It will replace a currently used software, and while everyone has “seen it coming,” there are still heavy sighs because the project is a big one.
Think about a time when you’ve managed a project like this. You probably had someone jump right in, take charge, and start an action plan. You also had a person or two or three or four who put on the brakes and asked a million questions. You had people who talked it over with everyone and folks who retreated to their office to either think or stew.
Those who jump in and talk with everyone are excited, even in the face of a challenge or change; those folks are chaos-tolerant and team-driven. The group that asks lots of questions and chats with anyone who will listen? Those are order-tolerant and team-driven. I bet you’re seeing a pattern.
The employees with lots of questions and perceived retreat are order-tolerant and self-driven. And lastly, you have those people who ask a few questions and seem ready for the change but don’t spend much time conversing with others; they are chaos-tolerant and self-driven. Now you have four work preference types instead of potentially 16 personality profiles. The information you collect when using these concepts provides you with actionable business data.

Then, Know Your Team

You’ve now calibrated your thought process and team metrics to measure by order/chaos and team/self. The next challenge is to learn how to use the data to build strong networks among teammates (this includes leaders) and guide the change.
First things first. For years, change has been seen as the arch rival of productivity. Not so. Change is an opportunity for growth and innovation. As leaders, we must cast off those old habits of saying “change is hard; we’ll just gut it out” and leverage that energy—use it to propel the change, not hamper it!
Once you’ve sorted that in your head, start looking at the connections among the work preference types. Who talks with whom? Who jumps in headfirst, and who does that drive nuts? When do the different types begin engaging with each other and how? And most importantly, how are you engaging, contributing to, and motivating your team?
You’ll start to see patterns in interactions and communication. You can pinpoint communication gaps and weaknesses. The stomp out of the conference room, eye rolling, and undermining comments are recognized and preempted. You can stop the madness! Those unspoken conversations will melt away, and transparency will take their place.

Finishing Touches

You know you have all different types of work preferences, from order to chaos-tolerant and team to self-driven. You can utilize that information to develop alliances, foster spoken conversations, and engage entire groups of people effectively. Hack your way into a high-five culture, and beat workplace culture Tetris!

Meg MankeMeg Manke, Senior Partner at Rose Group Int’l, is a culture and leadership expert with years of experience leading companies large and small through transition. Drawing from her background in organizational psychology and mastery of leadership concepts, her ability to recognize opportunity in weakness and present a strategic solution is unprecedented in today’s business world.
Partnering with Dr. Rachel MK Headley, PhD, at Rose Group Int’l, they developed their proprietary iX leadership framework, which allows business leaders to solve problems within their teams, address generational issues, manage big changes, and accomplish their most ambitious goals. For more information about Manke’s book, iX Leadership: Create High-Five Cultures and Guide Transformation, click here. For more information about Rose Group Int’l, please visit https://rosegroupintl.com/. Connect with Manke (@meg_manke) on Twitter and on LinkedIn.

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