Hot Enough for You?
I’m not so sure about global warming, but we certainly have had local warming here this week, with the temperature in the upper 90s and the humidity not far behind. Even with air conditioning in nearly every indoor space, unrelenting heat that goes on for several days, lurking at any uncovered window or door, does have a way of taking over and grinding just about everything else to a halt.
The kind of crushing environment that a heat wave creates is similar to the pervasive atmosphere of a negative company culture, one that does not offer life support to innovation or excitement, instead stamping out any shoots of creativity or individualism that may arise.
Procedures are important, and practices that have been tested by time and experience can give structure to a work environment and make a workflow smooth and seamless. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t be improved or at least tweaked occasionally to make them more responsive to change.
Passing along the spoken or unspoken word from one generation of management to the next that certain “rules” are so sacrosanct that even the suggestion of variation will not be tolerated effectively stifles any opportunity for progress.
A more tolerant and tolerable culture retains the best of what works, but makes room for new ideas and approaches that could work even better. Just as sun and rain are critical for organic growth, but too much sun or rain will destroy new life, so rules and structure give stability to a workplace, but inflexibility squelches new ideas.
Often, this inflexibility is not even the wish or fiat of upper management, but the accepted practice of middle managers who do not want to rock the company boat, so they make sure all their direct reports do not make even the slightest waves. All too often, the end result is that management wonders why it gets no ideas or creative input from its staff, while employees who have new ideas move on to a more receptive environment somewhere else.
Take a closer look around your workplace and see if your company is stuck in a stifling atmosphere or offers a nurturing environment where long-held practices do not shut out the kind of creativity that will make it more competitive in today’s world of change.
What’s the temperature in your shop?