Updated: Jan 30, 2019
Culture building has been one of the top priorities on the minds of many companies and leaders we coach. How can we build a strong coaching culture? How can we push our staff beyond their comfort zone? How can we challenge the status quo? Ironically, the answer lies in the comfort zone, not out of the comfort zone.
Like it or not, aware or not, intentional or not, there is already an existing culture within your company. This is a set of behaviors and social norms that are deemed acceptable within a group of members. When these mindsets and actions become routine, habits are formed. When habits are reinforced through a period of time, the culture is created. And we need these series of routines, habits and culture because it makes us feel safe, assured, and comfortable. No one wants to step forward because it is risky to step forward, it is beyond their comfort zone.
Leaders, either by position or by action, then play an important role to change and foster a strong culture within the team. By having the courage and clarity to start a new mindset, behavior and action with a strong and meaningful purpose, leaders create re-assurance and spread influence to the rest of the members through role-modeling, sharing and coaching. When team members adopt these new habits into their comfort zones, a new culture is formed as a new norm is formed.
Culture building is not a one-day event nor a one-department affair. It takes intention, time and effort to design, execute and reinforce throughout the whole organization (yes, including the security guards and the office helpers). The strategy is not so much of pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zone, but more in creating and embracing (instead of fighting) the comfort zone whereby people feel safe and comfortable.
When done purposefully and correctly, the ROI for culture building can be very rewarding. Team members can start to feel safe and comfortable within this expanded comfort zone. They appreciate diversity and challenge status quo. They fail fast and learn faster. They judge less and coach more. They engage deeper and laugh louder. They feel safe to get unsafe. The table has turned the other way. Now team members who are still “stuck” in the old culture will start to feel “uncomfortable”, and become compelled to adapt, adopt and embrace this new culture with intention and clarity.
Culture loves Comfort. Leaders love Culture. We are intentional about it. We plan for it. We care for it. We grow it. We nuture it.