“‘You is kind, you is smart, you is important.’ You know, like in that movie, what’s it called? The Help, yeah, that’s it.”
These words came from the COO earlier this week. I was facilitating an Executive Team as they reviewed their 2017 safety performance and initiatives. They had made significant progress over the year just ended and were making plans for how to continue this growth over 2018. Our earlier discussions around a safety “mind map” had pointed to an increased emphasis on culture, and we had just been digging into what “strengthening culture” might actually mean.
“Culture essentially is that unspoken yet shared set of beliefs that people have about the work, about themselves as they do the work, about what is appropriate or inappropriate at work, and more,” I explained. “If we are ‘strengthening culture,’ then we’re getting people to believe precepts that are truer or more worthy, knowing that they will act in more healthy and helpful ways as a result of this changed understanding.” We then brainstormed a list in response to the prompt “What Do We Want People at Our Company to Really Believe?”
In short order, they produced the following list:
The COO’s comment “you is smart …” came at this point … but he wasn’t making a joke. There was no mocking in his tone, only a kind of respect as he went on to say “at core, we all have the same desires and hopes and needs. Everyone wants to feel valued, to know that what they are doing is important and that they have the power to impact others.”
Indeed. Think about it: what if a higher percentage of your people “got” that they were more valued? Or more supported? Or more powerful or responsible for others at a deeper level than they have it now? What if they came to believe all of these precepts? How might this cause them to behave differently, and how might your company benefit in terms of safety performance, or quality, or customer service?
Re-read that last paragraph. Let the possibility capture your imagination.