After my first meeting with my company where I introduced all of that new company information, eyeballs rolled and people loudly sighed. This was a very discouraging start. I felt as though the negative reactions had a personal undertone directed at me, so it stung quite a bit.
I asked Smartie-Pants about it, and he said, “You should expect some skepticism and some doubt and beware that some people won’t want to embrace the ideas you have for the future. Some of the skeptics are people who don’t belong on the bus, but they will eventually realize that this culture stuff is here to stay. Those people will leave. The ones who stay but resist are testing you to see how you will handle their doubt. This is your chance to show them you are serious and committed. As a result, these folks will eventually come around.”
Smartie-Pants warned that sometimes employees will actually actively try to block our progress. In my case, one particular employee decided to resist participating in company activities. He was present but sat in the back of the room, silent with arms folded across his chest in protest. He wanted nothing to do with this stuff because he didn’t believe in the vision. This guy didn’t buy into it one bit.
This singular, silent protest was just loud enough that a few other employees joined the movement. They’d sit in the back of the room on chairs that lined up against the wall, arms folded, eyes facing straight forward. Their behavior reminded me of a hippie sit-in. Time after time, we’d gather for some sort of meeting, and there they’d sit, expressionless and stubbornly choosing not to participate. They weren’t even open to pretending.
As you lead culture-building efforts, you are going to need thick skin. Situations like these have the power to derail your effort because a negative force is strong and slows progress. I want to warn you to expect people to resist. Don’t let them get into your head.
Culture-building adds value to your company and adds value to your life as the leader of the organization. Do it; it’s worth the investment. But it can be a bit trying because there are phases that require consistent effort and planning even though your employees won’t care one bit.
This can be very discouraging and takes the wind right out of your sails. You may not see progress during this time, and some employees will even outwardly buck the tide.
Time and consistency are the forces that will overcome a temporary negative current.
Use this diagram to help you stay focused on the positive forces that are molding your company culture right now! Download it and use it to center your thoughts and focus on what matters most.
- Center Your Thoughts
- Re-Focus Back To Your Priorities
- Focus On What Matters
- Make The Most Of Your Influence
With all of this information and the employees who protested our new culture, I knew I had to build momentum in order to make this culture last.