Confronting the Challenge of Cultural Change in the Workplace
Q&A with Abe Moses, Founder of Radical Consultants
What needs confronting, and why?
Research shows that only around 34% of employees are engaged in their work. 13% of employees are "actively disengaged" and actively/passively attempt to sabotage their employers business. The remaining 53% of workers are in the "not engaged" category. They may be generally satisfied but are not cognitively and emotionally connected to their work and workplace; they will usually show up to work and do the minimum required but are likely to quickly leave their company for only a slightly better offer.
Disengagement or lack of engagement is a major issue in business operations today. This major issue needs confronting.
Engagement arises as we induce cultural change. Cultural change means a more healthy and satisfying workplace. A healthy workplace will organically motivate people to become actively engaged in promoting and supporting the business. That active engagement relates to improved output, improved s productivity, improves relationships with all stakeholders, and improves the bottom line.
What encourages workplace cultural change?
Workplace Cultural Change entails a change in the quality of workplace relationships that employees consistently can demonstrate. This change of quality needs a degree of conscious intent for it to occur.
Many of us may be running on pre-conditioning programs that determine how we respond to life, its challenges and its questions. That same range of pre-conditioned responses also determines our states of thinking, feeling and acting. Relationships are built (or destroyed) by those ways of responsiveness, of thinking, acting and feeling, so in catalysing cultural change we become aware of the pre-conditioned (limited) range of ways that we relate to each other in the workplace.
For cultural change to happen, there needs to be a conscious intention developed to make healthier choices in the way we relate. My role is to encourage the development of that intent, as we explore the creation of new neuronal pathways.
What’s the biggest challenge in encouraging people to make change?
Choosing the right words is the first hurdle to get over. We need to convey the message in a way that people will take it on board. A core component of the message is that cultural change includes an internal change. Internal change means a change in the way that people think, process and respond to information.
Of course, there is the very likely possibility that change will need also to include the external world such as the environment, such as the systems in place, such as workplace conditions and arrangements.
Coming into an intention of conscious change usually happens one person at a time. There's a whole sea of people that are holding patterns of thinking and ways of responding to life. This holding pattern, that is defining our life at work, needs to be released. We take it one element at a time, or one response at a time, and find ways of thinking and relating that favour a more healthy, more responsible, more coherent, workplace culture. As we move towards more coherent patterns we inevitably find ourselves adopting a new, more holistic, way of thinking.
When people are presented with the invitation to change ways of relating in the workplace, many don't like change and automatically go into a story that it is all too difficult, and that becomes their reality. I work towards disengaging from the power of that story, by bringing conscious awareness to it. Together, we confront and progressively disempower the story.
I see it there time and time again, the habitual ways of thinking become very real for people, because it all runs automatically. It's the automatic story. It's the automatic life. The work of cultural change entails confronting those stories.
What is satisfying to you in this work?
In essence my satisfaction arises in observing the responses change. When I notice that employees, especially leaders, are not only complying with adopting new language, using new responses, using new neuronal pathways as if by direction from outside themselves, but that they have adopted the new ways as their own and adapted them even further to meet their own needs and unique capabilities I feel all that flowing through my own energy field. In my language I use the word ‘embodied’. I feel gratified when I notice that the people I work with have embodied the change.
So for me, it's not just a choice that belongs to in the mind where people think 'oh I need to answer this or respond to this differently now because we have this cultural change expert around’. The response is engendered by a deeper change in the cells of their body which then spontaneously generates their primary response to life situations in the workplace.
And this doesn't mean that the prior responses have been deleted, but it means that they have been de-emphasised, or de-prioritised, or dis-empowered. The old ways become a less likely response, a less likely primary response.
What place does changing yourself have in your work?
I believe that there is a level at which the people I am in communication with can sense the authenticity of Abe Moses. Am I walking the talk? Am I able to primarily choose a healthy and empowering response to circumstances and situations that I am confronted with in the arena of the workplace? Am I seen in a way that actually reflects me as being different, whilst being able to fully connect with the people around me? Is it visible to others that in fact I choose my responses based on continuously refreshing new patterns of Abe's thinking? Is it visible to others that I am not only in the business of encouraging others to change, I am in the business of embodying that change in and for myself?
There’s that word again, ‘embodying’. And that's what I call a deeper change in myself.
What is your working style?
I challenge myself to make it light-hearted. I want people to feel the enjoyment of the process. I want people to jump with me into the new. I want people to be inspired.