Surface and Hidden Cultures

dreamstime_xs_79148620I met a woman recently who works with companies to change their cultures.  It was an interesting conversation and it prompted me to think about company cultures that I have experienced.

One in particular comes to mind.  It was a skilled nursing facility with a very high turnover in the nursing department.  The turnover didn’t make sense because the facility was positioned well in the area related to pay and benefits.  Other departments in the facility did not have the same problem.  I don’t remember whether the administrator finally investigated the situation closer or if it was a new administrator, but the result was that although the nursing staff complained about being short-staffed and having to work overtime, in reality, they liked the extra pay.  To keep the overtime pay, they were driving away new employees.

In looking back on this situation, I realized that companies might have surface cultures and hidden cultures.  Of course, it can be argued that whatever is happening reflects the true culture.  But for the purpose of discussion, let’s use the terms surface culture, what it appears to be on the surface, and hidden culture, what it really is.

In the skilled nursing facility mentioned previously, one department, on the surface, appeared to share the culture the rest of the facility had with not wanting to be short-staffed and in making new employees feel welcome.  In reality, the department had a hidden culture that drove employees away.  On the surface, they talked the talk of wanting more employees.  Underneath, they didn’t and undermined attempts to retain, and maybe even attract, new employees.

What is the surface culture of your organization?  Are there any hidden cultures in your organization?  If you are not achieving the results you want in your company, is this worth investigating?

This same concept can be used in our personal situations as well.  Are there hidden cultures in your immediate or extended family?  Is the surface culture one of support but the hidden culture one of sabotage?

Planning Backwards

dreamstime_xs_54563294Although we usually think of planning as starting at the beginning and finishing at the end, it can be beneficial to start with the end and continue backwards to the beginning.

Most of us probably do this frequently in small ways.  For example, to determine when we need to get up in the morning to get to work on time, we might plan something like this:

  • I start work at 8:00, so…
  • I need to arrive at work at 7:45 to park the car, punch in, etc. to be on the job by 8:00.
  • It takes 45 minutes to drive to work, so I need to leave home at 7:00.
  • It takes 90 minutes to get ready and take care of the pets, so I need to get up at 5:30.
  • However, it’s snowing, the roads will probably be bad in the morning, so I need to allow an extra 30 minutes to drive to work. I need to set the alarm for 5:00.

This process can also be beneficial for our large dreams and goals, especially if they are very specific.

For example, if someone wanted to design motorcycles for a specific company, good information to obtain could be:

  • Is this an entry level position? If not, what entry level position can lead to the desired position?  What advancement is necessary within the company?
  • What experience is required to be hired by the company? How can it be obtained?
  • What education/degree is required? Where do most of these graduates attend college?
  • What needs to be done to be accepted into that college and that degree program?
  • What needs to be done to be able to attend that college? (For example, would it require moving? Financial assistance?)

The plan, of course, would include the details on how to make this work.  Additional questions might include the following.  Would an internship meet the experience requirement and could that be completed during college?  If the person is in high school, what classes could she take and what grades would she need to be accepted to the college?  If she is already in the workforce, can some of her work experience assist her in being accepted to the college?  Are there classes she needs to take before she will be accepted either into that college or into that program?  What financial assistance is available?  What support, if any, will she need from family?

The next time you need to plan something, try planning backwards and see if it helps you develop a better, more detailed plan.

Lose 5 Pounds 5 Times

dreamstime_xs_78713976A family member and I were discussing (complaining) about how difficult it is to lose weight.  I said that my philosophy was that I would rather lose 5 pounds 5 times than to try to lose 25 pounds once.  She laughed at me, until I explained why.

It is easier to lose 5 pounds each time we gain 5 pounds, even if it means we repeat this 5 times, than it is to wait until we have gained 25 pounds and then try to lose it all at once.  We can make small adjustments in our lifestyle to lose 5 pounds.  We will have to make larger adjustments to lose 25 pounds, and it will take longer.

I think the concept of losing 5 pounds 5 times is sound and is something that we can use in all areas of our lives.  Problems and issues are easier to deal with when they are small.  When we address them when they are small, they do not become big problems or issues and are not as overwhelming.

One example is overall health.  It is easier to make the life changes necessary to avoid a heart attack than it is to deal with life after a heart attack.

It is easier to deal with debt when it is small, rather than letting it pile up and trying to deal with it when it becomes large.

It is easier to deal with people over minor issues as they occur than it is to let bad feelings accumulate and then try to deal with them.

It is easier to deal with anything when it is small, rather than waiting until it becomes overwhelming.

Is there anything you should deal with now before it becomes worse?  Won’t it be easier to deal with now, rather than later when it is a larger issue?

Why?

dreamstime_xs_91972430Why do you do the things you do?

I think why we do things is usually more important than what we do.  If we don’t know why we are doing something, how do we know if we are doing the right thing?  If we don’t know why, we are just going through the motions.

I encourage you to think about why you are going to do something before you do it.  Since we usually have more than one “why” keep asking yourself “why else?” until you have a complete answer.  Are those good reasons for doing what you are planning to do?  If so, do it.  If not, reconsider doing what you had intended.

Accumulation of Consequences of Choices

dreamstime_xs_71641025We are where we are in life because of the choices we have made.  All our choices have consequences.  It is not just a matter of each choice having a consequence (or consequences), however.  Our choices, and the consequences, accumulate and can have a domino effect.

For example, choosing to eat a piece of dessert for a special occasion will not make anyone gain weight.  However, choosing to consume more calories than what one needs, day after day, week after week, year after year, will cause weight gain and can lead to obesity and other health problems.  This is, of course, an example of a series of choices leading to negative consequences.

Choices can also lead to positive consequences.  Exercising for 30 minutes for 1 day is not going to impact anyone’s health.  Exercising for 30 minutes 3 times a week, over the course of months and years, however, will have a positive impact on a person’s health.

I know, and I’m sure you do as well, people who lie.  The more they lie, the more people don’t trust them.  The more they are dishonest, the more people believe they are always dishonest, even on the occasions when they are telling the truth.  On the other hand, people who choose to be honest build trust with other people.  People believe what they say.  Both the dishonest and honest people have built reputations—not because of one choice, but because of the series of choices that they have made.

People who continue to make responsible choices gain more of what they want out of life.  Those that continue to make irresponsible choices spend time and resources trying to repair the negative consequences of those choices.  That is time and resources that are not available to create the life they want.  More is spent on damage control than on creating.

This same concept applies to all aspects of our lives, and all the choices we make.  The consequences, good and bad, of our choices over years becomes significant.  If we want a different life, we need to make different choices, not just today, but always.