Turn intentions into behaviours

Posted by Dermot Crowley on 26th November 2018

I once read that culture is a set of collective beliefs and behaviours. In organisations, the productivity culture is influenced by the behaviours of the people within the organisation, especially senior managers. Staff see how managers and leaders operate and tend to copy these behaviours. The behaviours then become the norm.

For instance, if an organisation has a meeting-heavy culture, it is often because leaders and managers believe that meetings are the only way to move work forward, and therefore call a lot of meetings, and invite lots of participants. This then becomes the normal way to progress work at every level in the organisation. If an organisation has a noisy email culture, where staff are getting hundreds of emails every day, it may be because it has become the norm to use email like an Instant Messaging tool, firing off responses every time a new one arrives. In both cases following the group norm can be dangerous and unproductive.

The group norm must not dictate our behaviours. Our behaviours must dictate the group norm.

When I talk to my clients about the productivity culture in their organisations, most can easily identify with the issues mentioned above around emails and meetings. It can be frustratingly hard for them to work productively, as the group norms drive the volume of emails and meetings up, and at the same drives the quality of both down.

But my clients often realise that they are just as much a part of the problem as anyone else. They don’t mean to disrupt other people’s productivity, but they are busy and under pressure. They send emails that are rushed and confusing. They organise meetings with no clear purpose. They arrive late to meetings full of apologies. While they might always have the best of intentions, their behaviours don’t always match.

So how do we create a link between our good intentions, and our actual behaviours? How do we change our behaviours, and the behaviours of those around us to shift the culture of our team in a positive way?

I believe that making the time to create a set of working agreements or protocols is the key. Agreements create a direct link between intention and behaviour. If we agree to a set of behaviours around how we will use email, and how we will run meetings, and hold each other to account, our behaviours will change. And so will the culture of our team.

Our Smart Teams workshop is designed to achieve this exact objective. You and your team will walk out at the end of the day with a set of skills and strategies to reduce email noise and make meetings more effective. But more importantly, you will also have a set of working agreements that will ensure a lasting change in behaviour.

If this resonates, talk to me today about how a Smart Teams workshop could boost the productivity of your team.


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