How would you describe the culture of your organization? How would one of your front-liners describe it? Chances are the portrayal will be different. It may be mildly dissimilar or miles apart. And there isn’t a right or wrong answer. It’s not that one is the truth and the other is a lie. The views are based on the “reality tunnels” held by each person.
“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” – Anaïs Nin, Author
The concept of reality tunnels was developed by American psychologist Timothy Leary. In today’s world, now more than ever, we are exposed to copious quantities of information. And, that information comes to us in all shapes and forms. We are receiving visual information, audio waves, taste sensations – it’s a tsunami of sensory experiences. In order to exist in this world, our brain needs to filter this information into something that is manageable. No two people will filter the same sensory inputs the same way. The result is that we are always operating from a filtered position.
This is exactly what’s going on in your organization. Every employee is having their own personal experience when they come to work. The truth about your culture is what is seen through the eyes of each beholder.
“Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Thomas Jefferson, US President
With the possibility that there are multiple truths out there about your culture, and as much as you might believe that your culture is a good one, are you willing to discover what those other truths might look like? I believe that by asking everyone to choose 10 values to describe the current culture the various truths can be consolidated. This gives us a view of how people see our workplace.
For one of my clients, the results included balance, strategic alliances, customer satisfaction, goal oriented, information sharing, results focused. All of this sounds pretty good, right? But they also selected words such as confusion, job insecurity and bureaucracy. These are the types of elements that when surfaced, allow us to focus on the things that are preventing our people from doing their very best work.
“You can’t handle the truth!“ Col Jessup, from the movie A Few Good Men
Innovation expert, Toni Newman recently said, “The only thing between an idea and results is courage.” Do you have the courage to learn the truth about your culture as seen through your employees’ reality tunnels? How well does your culture stack up compared to your competitors?
Having the right culture for your organization means that the customer experience will be amazing. It also means that the very best talent will be seeking you out, instead of you working so hard to attract them and having to settle for average. The right culture pushes dysfunction and inefficiencies out of the operations. And, all of this fuels a better bottom line.
How you see your culture is based on the filters you have used in observing and experiencing how work gets done. But how you’re experiencing it may be very different from how others are encountering it. You may also be basing your truth on old experiences and not updating it for the current situation. The truth about your culture won’t truly be identified unless you take action. Discovering the current truths, throughout the organization, about your culture is the first step to building a high performing, outstanding place to work.