Now more than ever…managing culture

Now more than ever, it’s crucial to be deliberately managing your business’ culture.  There has never been such an accelerated pace of change in our world.  Steady states and status quo’s are a thing of the past.  We are now seeing the effects of humanity’s existence on the planet reach an alarming state.  We’re pushing the limits of  technology by forcing high-risk unconventional means of oil extraction, we’re experiencing extreme weather patterns across the globe (we had an earthquake in Toronto last week!), and we’re at the mercy of the volatility and interconnectedness of the global economic landscape.

What will your business rely on when resources reach their limits, when the degraded environment kills off species and causes extreme weather patterns that we can no longer tolerate, and the interdependence of our global economies threatens the equity, revenue and profit of your business?  Your employees and the culture you’re developed will be your strongest asset to weather the stormy seas of a future we’ve collectively created.  Building a resilient culture in your organization is your best defense against the unexpected shocks that our future holds.  Start today.  Conduct a benchmarking and roadmapping cultural values assessment for under CAD $15,000, and start paving the way to a resilient and thriving highway for your organization.

Apologies if this sounds like a commercial but at Integra we’re passionate about building resilient cultures and time is of the essence.  Call us today for more information.

Change. It’s inevitable. Engage it.

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5 Ways to celebrate Earth Day

Yesterday I heard on the radio that it was Earth Day. Naturally, all kinds of things were said about the environment – we got tips how to be more eco-friendly and a general invitation to be mindful about our stewardship of the resources be have at our disposal (pardon the pun!).

After the radio show was over, somehow I was not done with the topic of Earth Day. All day I had this nagging feeling that there was another significance to Earth Day, other than the ecological side. It felt that there was another elusive truth hidden here, and a significant perspective that wanted to be uncovered. Then, late at night, I picked up the book I am currently re-reading – Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth. And there it was. Right in front of me. It was like the page had been screaming at me quietly, all day long. It reads “Unhappiness or negativity is a disease on our planet. What pollution is on the outer level is negativity on the inner.” It is no wonder the world is not ecologically responsible – we have a hard time managing own inner messes, so we are not going to be brilliant at managing the outer ones.

The interesting thing is that while listening to that morning radio program I was on my way to Private Information Court here in Toronto, where I preview cases and assess them for suitability for mediation. Private Information Court (PIC) deals with private citizen prosecutions that involve a criminal charge, usually a “light” charge, as most cases involve domestic disputes, neighborhood or workplace conflicts. One of the crown attorneys at this court is a huge believer in mediation as a conflict resolution tool, and she addresses her audience every time pointing to the need for each party to be willing to speak to one another and communicate, especially when there is an ongoing relationship. She points out that proper communication, where each sides gets to really understand the other, will in most cases lead to a resolution that both parties are willing to abide by. She makes it clear that the courts’ time is designated to address serious charges and serious victims – lighter issues should be resolved by communication between parties themselves until a resolution is found.

Tragically, I am finding that most people are ill equipped to have these difficult conversations without help from a facilitator. As soon as conflict arises, there is a helplessness that sets in. This helplessness can translate into anger and possibly violence, withdrawal, frustration or long-term bitterness. All of this of course contributes to the overall unhappiness and negativity that Tolle talks about. We simply do not learn to use conflict resolution tools, either at home or in school. Apart from the communication skill set, which anyone can learn, I find that what is lacking is a mindset that is truly curious as to why the other party insists on their position. I find that there is almost a glee with which individuals will figuratively stomp their feet, insisting on the “rightness” of their position, and then literally insist on their day in court.

What is it that has us be so negative and stubborn? What is it that we can clean up inside, so that we are more open to hear another person’s truth? Truth is, we literally carry that “garbage” around with us, we dish it out to others, and we nurture it with our thinking – so at best, we end up harping on disasters and negative topics all day long, and at worst all this negativity (our own and that of others) can make our bodies sick.

So, What might we do between now and the next Earth Day to clean our internal “house?” Here are some thoughts:
- Who are you in conflict with currently? Given that their position makes perfect sense to them, can you figure out how might that be? Try on their shoes and perspective for a moment. You don’t have to agree with it!
- Notice your thoughts when they turn negative. As soon as you notice, focus on your breathing for 2 or 3 breaths. Notice how this breaks the thinking pattern. Then decide consciously whether you wish to return to that thinking or head somewhere better.
- Decide one day that you will have a good day and that you are only expecting good things from everyone you meet. Naive? Test the theory and see for yourself!

Happy and peaceful belated Earth Day to all!

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Why Business should care about Resilience

I’m a firm believer that worrying is pointless.  If I’m worried about something, I need to ask myself what I can do about it, then do it and forget about it.  Worry is useful in so much as it points us to things that need our attention.  Beyond that worry is a waste of effort and thinking time.

So when I began looking into the heavily debated concept of Peak Oil, and many of the other serious challenges facing our planet today, I began to realize that I had a choice.  If in fact we’re facing the end of cheap oil and prices are going to climb to crippling levels in the not too distant future, this was probably something worth worrying about.  The fact that our nations and the entire world consists of an intricately interconnected web of systems that all depend heavily on oil as an abundant and cheap resource, is something we need to pay attention to, do something about, so that we can ease up on the worrying.  The other option is to remain in denial that business as usual will continue for the rest of our lifetimes and beyond…Not really an option.

So as a business, what plans are being put in place for a  5-, 10-, or 20- year time frame to wean your organization off of fossil fuels?  What are we doing to ensure that our organization is sustainable?  Now before you say, “Oh, but I won’t be here in 10 years!” let me remind you that we will be forced to transition from oil dependency in our lifetime.  … on our watch.  If we don’t start thinking about how we will transition now, there will be no businesses for our children to work in.

Resilience is the capacity to adapt, rebound and thrive in the face of unexpected threat or shock.  Building business resilience requires addressing all areas of business and creating or re-engineering new ways of operating as well as having contingency plans in place.  What will your business do if there is a blackout and machinery, lighting, and electronic financial transactions are inoperable?  What is your means of surviving through the next great recession?  How will your business function when oil reaches $200 / barrel?  What is the emotional preparedness of your leaders? your employees?  How cohesive will your organization be in the face of crisis?

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Overestimating our Understanding

Generally I like to keep an open mind…. a beginner’s mind as they say, and have never been accused of being a ‘know-it-all’ but I realized recently how I have fooled myself into thinking that I understand when really I only grasped the very tinyest tip of the iceberg!! 

It can happen so innocently, with the simplest of everyday, common language.

About a year and half ago I came across a phrase, “values-based leadership” and given that I was a 7-year trained and certified coach, who places a fundamental importance on values in coaching any executive leader, I presumed that I knew what that phrase meant.  However I didn’t.  I thought it meant making choices for your actions based on your values.  But I didn’t grasp the full depth of implications and opportunities with this concept.

Now that I have studied this model, as a framework for building high performing, sustainably successful organizations, I see what I missed all those years… the power of the entire people system, sharing a common understanding of their shared values and behaving in alignment with those values; the courage it takes for one leader to stop allowing outside influences to push them to behave against their values; the strength in values-based decisions; the cohesion when values-based performance management takes place; and the wildly successful financial performance that’s attainable in a values-driven organization.

Don’t assume you understand.  Probe deeper.

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Resistance is Futile

Why is it that as humans we tend to resist change?  For the most part our species prefers the status quo.  The only time we actively create a change is when the pain of the status quo becomes unbearable or the benefit associated with the change becomes greater than the cost to change. Here’s what I know. Change is inevitable.  It’s part of evolution.  And challenging life conditions like economic, environmental and social crises serve as pain points that inevitably become unbearable and force us to change.  And, we always have a choice.  We can resist, deny or complain about the transition that is taking place or we can accept and embrace it.  We can fight it or join the game.  Resisting what is happening creates stress.  Accepting it and then choosing your next move in the game is far more peaceful…and fun.

Right now is a time of great change in our world. Choose to engage or react, but don’t push against it.  Resistance is futile.

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The Problem with Coaching

The problem with coaching is that there are many problems with coaching.  I’m referring here to the word “coaching”.  This relatively new use of the word, (for an industry that is only about 20 years old) quickly became a buzz word and hot button in many organizations.  “Have you got a coach?” became a popular question around the water cooler.  However, the results have been mixed, with many organizations wary of coaching initiatives because previous efforts failed to hit the mark or were not result-focused enough.

Unfortunately, the word coaching has many connotations and is easily misunderstood by the mass public.  Few truly understand the coaching process much less the power of it.  Some liken a coach to a personal trainer for your career, others refer to them as a shrink, and still others discount the potential of working with a coach since coaches are known not to give advice… “well what good are they then?”.

To add to the confusion is that coaching is a self-regulated industry and one does not require a license or certificate to call themselves a coach.  Buyer beware: ask about training and credentials before hiring a coach!

A coach may have expertise in other areas but when they are coaching they are usually not consulting, counseling or mentoring.  Coaches are usually very clear about what role they’ve been asked to play and are intentional about switching hats.  The challenge for those of us who do offer several services, such as coaching, consulting, and facilitation is that labeling ourselves as a coach is a hindrance.  We run the risk of being stereotyped into others’ interpretations of what a coach is, and the full breadth of what we have to offer is missed.

For these reasons, Sabine and I at Integra are presenting ourselves as People Dynamics Specialists, as we focus on culture, conflict, teams and organizational relationship dynamics.  Have you got a PDS?!?

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The Corporate Valentine

It is here again – Valentine’s Day! Roses, chocolate, intimate dinners, handholding, gazing into each others eyes – it is so wonderful to connect at this intimate level with a loved one. It really is a little piece of paradise – a cloud of wonder and delicious bliss that surrounds us at that moment.
Ok – so you are at work, and you don’t have a loved one to share a moment like that with. No reason to cry the blues, because here is the good news…you are ALWAYS in relationship, whether you have a lover or not. If you are at work, you are certainly in relationship with a number of people and concepts. Booooring – you say. No romance here. Well yes, abstaining from office romance may be a good thing – depending on your corporate etiquette.
What I am talking about is taking a close look at relationships around your place of work.

First, what are the relationships like with the people at work? What about your business partner? How would it be if just for today, you brought a little more of YOU to those people…what if you showed up with a side of you that your colleagues don’t know and would really enjoy? You just may give opportunity to some transformation to a relationship. All relationships are work in progress – any positive input you provide will generate a positive return – whether you see immediate rewards or not.

Secondly, let’s look at your relationship with the work you do. What kind of leadership are you exercising over the way you manage your job? Is what you are doing congruent with what you want to be doing? Where are you in default mode? What results might you achieve if you were intentional about those areas? Effective leadership, personal or managerial, means self-awareness and a measure of control. Look closely at why you chose the work you do, and how you feel about it currently. Analyze the gap.

Last but not least, how is your relationship to your employer – the firm or corporation that you trade your waking hours with for pay? How committed are you to their goals and strategies? When you contemplate that question, do you feel blah, or are you energized by reconnecting with their core business mission? What is it costing you and the firm to have you feel the way you do? What would it take to improve this?

How engaged you are at work every day is based on your overall commitment to the company and/or its people. Engagement has so very much to do with commitment – and every solid, successful and profitable relationship has commitment right at the very core. As corporate coaches we see how people’s business relationships can be rescued from a downward spiral, once they are addressed. Maybe you don’t feel much commitment at all towards your employer or the people you work with – there is much information there as well. You always have the relationship with your Self. What are YOU committed to? What do YOU stand for? What are the “Must Have’s” in your life?

Today, on Valentine’s Day, go and indulge a relationship – have some fun, show up with a hidden side of you, and transform someone’s day, as well as your own. That is a surefire way to have a Happy Valentine’s Day, no matter where you are.

“The true voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” Marcel Proust

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Revisiting the New Years Resolution – 3 Steps to make it happen

Here we are almost at the end of January. What’s happening to your New Years’ Resolution? If you are like me, you have started it with some success, but the resolve is waning. Things come up … old habits creep in … I am definitely not defending my new routine with enough fervor. Yikes! The “old” reality is taking over, before the “new” one has had a chance to get established. Why do we permit for this to happen time and again? No matter. Enough of the pity party. Let’s get back on the proverbial horse and focus on the resolution we made for this year.

I believe the secret lies in the concept of “preparation”. (Right now I am clearly suffering from lack thereof.) Preparation means staking out the terrain that leads to our goal. What and who is involved in the successful achievement of my goal? Today, let’s focus on the “who”.

Most parts of our lives are connected to other people. Ergo, other people are also interconnected with our goals. It is a matter of involving these key people, and identifying what may keep us from involving them. We need to have conversations. Are we afraid of embarrassment? Shy? Or maybe there are unresolved issues that keep us from talking to someone? Even fairly simple changes in routine can lead to conflict and frustration when we don’t have clear buy-in from those who are intertwined with our routines.
So, here are 3 steps towards a successful New Year’s Resolution.

Step 1: Identify the parties on your path.

  • What are the main causes of your procrastination?
  • Who is the person/people involved with that cause?
  • Who is presently an obstacle in the achievement of your goal?
  • Who are the key people that can support you in reaching your goal?

Step 2: Assess Roles and Level of Involvement.

  • What do you need from the person to support you?
  • How might enrolling them affect your relationship?
  • Who might you enrol instead of the ones who refuse or don’t participate?

Step 3: Preparing for the Conversation

  • Check for any assumptions you are making about the person, and consider assumptions they may have about you.
  • What might they need from you in order to support you? What are you willing to offer?
  • What happens when they do/don’t support you? What is your best alternative?
  • Be clear on the ideal outcome of the conversation. How do you effectively communicate your message with this person? Be clear on what the 2nd best outcome is.

Success may hit us as a surprise some of the time – but it’s rare. Mostly it takes many little steps – many little conversations – strategic involvement of various people and stakeholders, to reach a goal.

So, now that I’ve convinced myself of all this I need to clear my calendar to have some very important conversations! Let me know how your journey towards your New Years Resolutions is coming!

Integral Insight…

“A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.” (Harvey Mackay)

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Blast Off!

It’s official! INTEGRA Enterprises has launched and is in business! We’d like to welcome you to our blog and our new website. We’re excited about this new venue to reach out to you and are looking forward to building a strong connection here.

Please take your time and peruse our site. We’d love to hear your comments – just post a comment here on our blog or send it through our Contact Us page.

Talk with you soon!

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