To Build a Healthy Culture Acknowledge How We Differ


Building an improved organizational culture can’t happen without considering how we differ from one another. If we fail to recognize that we are indeed individuals — and act on that knowledge — workplaces will likely not change for the better. As a psychologist, I encourage organizations to embrace processes and practices that recognize how employees differ and evolve over time (See our work at Allied Talent). But, I also encourage contributors to explore their own individual differences — and  identify their own workplace “blueprint”.

It is foolish to believe that we can attack the employee engagement crisis if we cannot openly acknowledge what we need to be effective. One important way in which we differ at work is when and where we feel most creative or productive. (Read Mason Currey’s Daily Rituals to learn how the greats found their groove.) Unfortunately, this is not a question routinely asked of our employees. While we all try to adapt to specific elements of our given environment (physical workplace, management style, etc.) — sometimes we simply can’t make things work. This can affect both our productivity and well-being.

So, I’ll pose the question to you. (If you manage others, pose these question to your team members.): When and where are you most creative or productive? Think of this carefully. Do you note any patterns? What were the surroundings when you were most (and least) productive? Who is there? What was happening? How did you feel? Here are a few topics to consider:

  • Physical work environment
  • How you are managed (check-ins, feedback)
  • Team membership (No. of teams you can juggle, team make-up).
  • Aligning work with temperament (Introversion/Extroversion)

Once you have the answers, I encourage you to seek small (and hopefully meaningful) changes in your work life to approximate your ideal. For example, if walking helps you to solve problems — take walks around your building and utilize walking meetings. Do require an intense challenge to grow? Explore carving out the time to contribute toward the solution of a tough customer/client issue. Do you find conference calls overstimulating? Try scheduling more 1:1 Skype calls to understand the issues/make progress before the larger groups convenes.

Let us know what you are doing to feel more productive.

Share your ideas in “Comments”.

Dr. Marla Gottschalk is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist.  She is the Director of Organizational Development at Allied Talent. Her posts on workplace topics have appeared in Forbes, The Huffington Post, US News & World Report and The World Economic Forum.

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