Culture Happens in the Conversation

When you get right down to it, the culture of an organization is experienced in the conversations that people are willing and able to have – or not have.

For example, in a “Midwest nice” culture people are rarely willing to talk about the tough, sticky issues.  In many ways the lack of meaningful dialogue becomes the defining feature of the cultural experience, as people tiptoe around the things they most need to talk about. This creates a cautious, risk adverse culture where change is all but impossible, because you can’t change something you can’t or won’t talk about.

If you truly want to change your organization’s culture, you have to change the conversations that people are willing and able to have “in the moment” when the opportunity to make change happen actually occurs. Change happens – that is, becomes real and visible – in the moment when, person-by-person, people choose to do things differently.  When people decide to put their more daring ideas on the table, collaborate with a perceived rival in another silo, or challenge a long-held assumption, change takes hold.

So how do you get from “nice” to “real?”

The transformation begins when people are able to recognize opportunities to have a different dialogue in day-to–day interactions. At Cylient, we call these Coaching Moments®.  We enable people to recognize classic “resistance” behaviors – such as complaints, frustration, busy work and conspicuous silence – as opportunities to talk about what’s really going on.  That’s part of our Coaching in the Moment® workshop, where people also learn how to turn everyday interactions into coaching conversations.

When people at the forefront of change can successfully conduct “in the moment” coaching conversations, the underlying fears and concerns that ground change to a halt can be addressed and worked through as they’re happening. That’s what coaching-based leadership looks like.

Changing the conversations that people are willing and able to have changes the cultural experience in the organization. When people have the perspective and tools they need to have meaningful conversations about the things that matter most, the culture shifts to become more open, engaging and agile.  Learning and innovation flourish in this environment.

That’s a culture that can embrace change as the opportunity that it is. And that’s a real competitive advantage in a world of constant change.

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