[callout]This week I am happy to share this blog space with Gretchen Holcomb. Gretchen is spending a few months fine-tuning some things in our organization before going off to Spain for a year to teach English as a second language. I am excited for her to share with you about her last two months working with our team and learning our organization's culture.[/callout] I love to travel and have been blessed with opportunities to spend time in multiple countries around the world.
In just the last few years, I've enjoyed curry cuisines in India and exploring historical cathedrals throughout Germany and Switzerland. One of the reasons that I travel so often is because I enjoy learning about other cultures. I've experienced different cultures in each country, all unique due to their location, language, history, agriculture, and so much more.
Being so passionate about travel, imagine my excitement when Scott shared with our team that he wanted to discuss the topic of culture on the blog this month! Yet after reading last week's blog, I began to think about how there are many more layers to culture than merely those we generally categorize by country or state. We each belong to overarching cultures, yet we also fit into subcultures that make up who we are and what we believe. These subcultures may be determined by your religion, gender, generation, upbringing, etc., all of which have influenced your behaviors and values.
As our team engaged in conversation about the cultures of organizations, I reflected on my first team meeting with Livingston Consulting Group and the organizational tension "culture shock" that I experienced.
You see, it was a very productive meeting where each team member shared what they were working on, brainstormed collectively what to do moving forward, and each identified our action steps for a project. As the meeting was wrapping up, my mind had already shifted gears towards what I needed to work on and how I would do that. Yet instead of just ending the meeting with assigned tasks to each member, Scott asked each of us to share one thing we learned from the meeting. I was not prepared and felt uncomfortable by what he asked us to do. I simply wasn't adapted to the organization's culture that was deeply invested in the development of the individuals on the team. Talk about a team that practices what they preach!
To overcome this cultural difference that I felt, I did a self-assessment of my emotions that Scott talked me through. Here are some questions I answered for this assessment:
What do I know about myself and my values?
Personally, I am very task oriented and focused. I value punctuality and deadlines for projects as a way to be organized and efficient. I feel that I am at my best and most productive when I complete several tasks and quality projects in a certain time frame.
What do I already know about the culture of my organization?
Each time our team meets, we spend some time sharing our thoughts, ideas, and opinions that may not necessarily be related to our projects and daily tasks. Although LCG appreciates work completion and meeting deadlines, our organization cares about the well-being and development of its employees and clients. There is an overarching vision of working on yourself and your emotional intelligence to be the best you can be.
What can I appreciate about the new culture I find myself in? How will it help me grow?
LCG recognizes work will always be there and will always get done, but the effectiveness and passion behind it is largely dependent upon our attitude and approach toward it. Spending time to reflect on what I'm learning and invest in my development will help me not only improve in my current role, but also position me to take on more leadership responsibilities in the future.
How can I use my strengths and skills to help me adapt to this new culture?
Since I am task oriented, I've challenged myself to write in a journal as a weekly assignment. This allows me to personally spend some focused time of reflection on my development. Sometimes I use Scott's questions as a writing prompt, or write a reflection based on our projects just like this blog post. This practice has helped me feel more comfortable when we share in our meetings, and has even stretched my thought process while I work.
So, what about you? Have you ever assessed yourself and your organization's culture to see how they align or where there is tension? How would you answer the questions above and take action yourself?
Find some time this week to answer the questions above in your journal. Ask someone else in your organization how they would answer these questions and start a conversation about culture at your workplace. You might be surprised by others perspective and what you can learn about your team.