Creating a 'Stand Out' Culture

Thursday, February 16, 2017 - 11:43

In the face of relentless change and 24/7 connectivity, your team have many demands on their time. Perhaps you sense they’re barely holding on. What if, even when life was rushing at them (sometimes as fast as that river of coffee they just knocked over their desk), they could re-centre and reconnect, and turn up feeling calm, focused and clear on what’s important next?

A Stand Out culture isn’t driven by fear, pressure or haste. Instead, even when your people are being pulled in a million different directions, a Stand Out culture encourages them to recognise these moments and find calm in the chaos. To move from martyr to centred, and go from being ‘over it’ to ‘I’m all over it’.

In order to create Stand Out cultures there needs to be a focus on the two drivers of change: purpose (why this?) and progress (what’s next?). Teams that obsess about asking the why behind their actions. This includes everything from the purpose the team is trying to achieve overall, down to getting clear on why we’re having a team meeting at 9am on a Tuesday morning. If you hear the words ‘just because’ then you need to find purpose. When there’s relentless change it can feel like people are going nowhere. Focusing on progress means knowing what’s next, creating a clear line of sight between todays tasks and tomorrows celebrations. Being clear on progress means the people in your organsation can see they’re kicking goals – and how those goals are completely in line with their purpose – and they can see the next steps, both for them personally and the people around them.

So how do you get the people in your team to focus on this intersection of purpose and progress?

Hit the reset button

It’s impossible to step into Stand Out if your people are feeling tired, stressed and chained to their desk – that’s a recipe for burn out. When these moments come as they do in a relentless change environment, it’s key to create moments to hit the reset button. Tell them to go for a walk, eat outside or even find a lunchtime yoga class. Ask the question – what do you need right now? ‘Walk and talk’ conversations are a great way to change the environment, engage creative thinking in the brain and provide some perspective. A Stand Out culture grows when your people feel supported and take ownership on what to do next.

Adopt a growth mindset

People who have a fixed mindset believe that character, intelligence, talent and ability are set and won’t change in significant ways, and assume that success is a result of inherent intelligence. On the other hand, a growth mindset thrives on challenges. Failure is not seen as evidence of a lack of intelligence but as an opportunity to learn, develop new skills and grow. A team member telling you they’re hopeless at Excel because they’ve always sucked at maths, for example, becomes a chance for you to highlight that it doesn’t always have to be this way. Possibilities are available through coaching and a focus on an individual’s ability to grow.

Feel the fear

Fear is what sits between the idea and the action. Being in Stand Out is a time of action and transformation, which brings with it uncertainty and fear. And your staff shouldn’t ignore fear or try to smack it down. Sitting with the discomfort and vulnerability of change allows us to step forward into the successes of tomorrow. So provide a space for the people around you (as well as yourself) to tune back in with their purpose and set into play the overall strategy to drive progress – what’s next? Use the energy and anticipation that fear can bring to propel them forward.

Commit to experimentation

Disruption breeds innovation. When we disrupt the status quo, we start to see new ways of operating in our world that we previously hadn’t paid attention to. And a great way to test new ideas is through experimentation. You and your staff can start with a hypothesis (for example, ‘I think starting a work running group twice a week would be great for staff’) and then test the parameters of this hypothesis. Does it work every week? What happens when deadlines are looming? What time of day works best for everyone? An experimentation mindset removes ‘failure’ from the equation and suggests that something not quite working the way we thought it would simply provides us with new data and an opportunity to tweak the conditions. Once you’ve got feedback on what works for you and your staff, you can then put the idea into practice – adding to your Stand Out culture.

Create a community

Magic happens when people come together in service of each other, and all great progress comes off the back of teams and groups working together. We crave it. But then we sit back and wait for collaboration to magically come knocking on the door or arrive in our in-box. Combat the belief with your staff that they’ve got to know all the answers. Encourage them to ask themselves who could help – either within the business or further afield – and then take a chance on reaching out to that person.


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About the Author:

Alison Hill is a psychologist and co-founder of Pragmatic Thinking, a behaviour and motivation strategy company. An international and in-demand keynote speaker, Alison is also the best-selling co-author of Dealing with the Tough Stuff, and Stand Out: A real world guide to get clear, find purpose and become the boss of busy.