A memory popped in my head on my drive in to work this morning that was inspiration for this
installment. It was a reflection on how a safety management program I was involved in administrating
for years, one that I had felt to be strong and getting stronger, and how that strength unraveled in the
span of what felt like a couple weeks. Who was involved in eroding the positive work environment is
secondary to how little effort it took a few people to pulverize the existing cultural capital, and how
great an effort it takes to not only stop the assault but eventually rebuild.
In the depths of a feedback loop of workplace negativity (which happens from time to time in this
business), I take refuge in the countless stories in print, film and in sports about ideas introduced that
turned an overly negative work environment in culture and productivity into an exciting place to go to
work where teams accomplished great feats. The stories typically unfold the same from start to finish,
but it’s how the idea is built and delivered to the team to gain buy-in, and the resulting rebuild effort
that piques my interest. Everyone in the workplace has a stake in the culture, and everyone needs to be
on board with the plan and play their part if headway will be made.
When the needle on the culture gauge has dipped into negative territory and the responses within your
workplace appears to have limited or no effect, it could be time to step outside of the echo chamber.
Some sources I’ve looked to for insight include my colleagues, columns/blogs/books on workplace
heath, and from loved ones. Ideological beliefs and principles, core values or prepackaged strategies of
management are, at best, meaningful to owners and management as a dollar store compass of sorts to
navigate broad macro-challenges tied to continual economic growth. There is real work that needs to
take place that recognizes the dynamic nature of a workplace cultural health-crisis that a corporate
mission statement or mantra can’t perform.
Compelling leadership to your analysis of the damage, and the ideas and/or options to respond
effectively can be a challenge to put it mildly. The effort required to prepare a solid case will extend
outside of business hours as workplace leaders are probably not seeking your contributions on billable
time. Having access to safety performance metrics related to your portfolio is an absolute must as they
are early indicators of cultural rough waters ahead. If you are not collecting data on safety
performance, start today, as it is key information for the presentation of objective feedback rather than
feedback of the emotional or anecdotal variety. Don’t expect your efforts to deliver a short-term
rebound or that they will even be accepted in the end. The energy invested has never been wasted in
my experience and has manifested in ways I couldn’t have anticipated.
All content created by Ryan Senechal unless otherwise noted - You can contact Ryan through twitter or instagram.