Bring the crap to the surface

by Therese Johansson

As an organizational developer, you need courage to dare to get shit under your fingernails. For it to succeed, I need to feel that I am safe in the company and organization that I am set to improve and develop. If we listen with a sincere attitude and accept what is not working well in the organization instead of choosing to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that the problems don't exist, then we actually have a real chance of getting things right.

What we need to be aware of is that we can throw around beautiful process documents but that doesn't mean a damn thing, if we don't live what we teach. Turn theory into practice and make working environments and prosperous and sustainable organizations a reality - go from words to action.

I sometimes hear zealous comments like "...why haven't we tackled this before?". We should have the insight that in organizations we do not get to the perfect state. This is because there is a living dynamic, it is that something always happens that creates situations and we simply have to work according to order of priority. Building an organization takes a long time and requires persistence and patience, which means that it is not possible to do everything at once. Bringing things up to the surface and thus being scrutinized by the rest of the organization can be tough and I am impressed when we act as we should and dare to put the cards on the table.

Focus on improvements, not mistakes

Opt out of a judgmental attitude and instead choose an attitude that generates team spirit. We should be positive about finding opportunities for improvement in organizations, it leads to development. As managers/leaders, we need to take ownership of the problems that exist and with that we then get the ultimate power to bring about a change where it is needed. What has happened has happened, putting energy into yesterday is like setting fire to the crows. If we instead put our focus, time and energy on what we can do today to create a better tomorrow, then we are effective. It also becomes more fun to work with that attitude, which positively affects the work environment, which in turn increases productivity. This in turn provides a good starting point for increased profitability on existing capital. As managers/leaders, we should be proud to focus on a profitable organization, especially when it creates great opportunities for the employees, who drive the organization forward.

Within management and leadership, there are three pillars I focus on; Individual Leadership, Team Leadership and Business Leadership. Management and leadership are there to provide the right starting point to create a sustainable organization, including all resources in the company. When we replace the fault-finding attitude with the continuous training attitude, we create the winning atmosphere: "It's fun to work here!" In addition, we have then created an open climate that provides the conditions for employees to have the courage to lift the crap to the surface. If, on the other hand, we have created a fault-finding-focused business, we get a fearful organization where we do not dare to raise problems to the surface, which means that we do not find the right opportunities for genuine sustainability.

When a manager/leader is stuck on a question, I draw up these three pillars and look at 1) What is best for the business? 2) What does it mean for the team? 3) What is required of me to make it happen?

Difficult decisions that are for the good of the company but will affect the human capital negatively are tough and require developed individual leadership. It can be lonely to hold and live up to the title of manager/leader. When it feels tough, remember the simple fact that an organization becomes more stable the more pillars it rests on. When it's windy, we don't want our employees to seek shelter in a house of cards.

By training our organization to safely deliver in openness, that we shine with the torch of reward instead of the torch of perfection, we create the right opportunities for the climate that makes us put the cards on the table. Through continuous training, we develop to become a little better in every situation, which in turn creates a little better tomorrow. In addition, we think it's more fun to go to work if we have an environment where the focus is on getting things done properly and that we act as we learn.