Level Set: The Ground Zero Step to Shaping an Effective Culture

When a business executive makes the critical decision to shift a culture, pivot a business offering, or release a new product, successful ones do their research and understand the competitive landscape, the buyer’s needs and the expected ROI. However, even the successful ones do not fully understand or appreciate the human complexities that can become barriers to cultural transformation, organizational change management and growth effectiveness.

The human system in an organization is the core element that makes the business unique, competitive, and successful. Business leaders tend to miss that a healthy human system breeds productive behavior and higher levels of results produced in the workplace.

When members of the human system feel secure in their work environment, trust their leaders, are aligned with the big picture, qualified for their role, and are encouraged to develop themselves, the human system thrives. Conversely, when the people in the system feel threatened, their effectiveness diminishes.The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, by Patrick Lencioni as well as The 7 Levels of Personal, Group and Organizational Effectiveness by BEabove Leadership explore this concept at length.

Pushing change will only stall success

Many organizations look to traditional change management training programs filled with content to solve the organization’s cultural impediments. While training on content is a solid element of any organizational shift, it alone does not cause new behaviors congruent with the ideal corporate culture. And the content cannot simply be presented to the workforce without first considering a thoughtful approach to addressing the change.

When change is thrust on people without context or space for introspection, people are more likely to resist the change and act out in ways that stall a successful culture shift.

When change is thrust on people without context or space for introspection, people are more likely to resist the change and act out in ways that stall a successful culture shift. When the organization needs to change its culture, and therefore the people inside of it, business leaders must begin with why, how and the intended outcomes. When employees understand the context for a cultural shift and how it will affect their everyday life, they are better equipped to navigate it in a positive and successful way.

Gaining workforce buy-in is a must

Neuroscience, leadership and emotional intelligence are becoming leadership development norms. Companies from Google and Zappos to millennial-run startups invest in their leaders – training them for self-awareness – which ultimately make them better able to support their teams. When a leader is fully grounded in the systemic impacts of human behavior at work, they are better equipped to consciously create a culture that fosters courage, engagement, innovation and even synchronicity.

Take for example how human beings respond to change. Stress is typically a natural byproduct as people learn to adapt. While some are highly skilled at recognizing their response to stress, others are blind to it. Therefore, leaders who know where their workforce is at with organizational change, how they respond to stress and what may stop them from operating at their best allows them to prepare for it, speak to their concerns, and work with team members to pave the path to a better future. Thus, creating a higher likelihood of buy-in and a smoother transition forward.

A business leader may intuitively know that change is necessary, but that alone will not cause real transformation within the human system. Therefore, an essential step in creating a culture shift is to gain buy-in that the change is needed. Gaining buy-in begins with data collection, which illuminates cultural misalignment and fractures within the human system. The most effective data collection comes from surveying your workforce to uncover their ideal culture in comparison to how they perceive the current culture. This information will be used to create a compelling statement that specifically addresses their concerns and barriers thereby enrolling them in the plan for change. 

Level Set event—a culture change essential

A Level Set event sets the foundation for obtaining positive buy-in and initiating the necessary cultural change. This event paves the way for effective teamwork, collaboration, and ultimately, the successful implementation of organizational change by allowing management and executive teams to gain insight and understanding into their personal barriers and overall team dynamics that constrain individual and organizational effectiveness.

As a result, your workforce recalibrates and leaders feel inspired to fully engage in creating a high-performance team that shapes culture, inspires people, and progressively executes strategy. At the end of this event, every member of your human system is prepared to navigate and positively impact the organization’s culture change.

The Framework of a Level Set event

At the onset of the Level Set, the team comes together in a facilitated inquiry to discover and uncover what has prevented accelerated and sustained high performance. During this inquiry, team members are guided in shaping their communications towards a solution-oriented and fully positive outcome. 

Then, the team comes together for a series of challenges that draw attention to the complexities of how a human system operates and what it takes to perform at a highly effective level.

While individual members and the team as a whole encounter their automatic operating modes and responses, limiting beliefs and unproductive behaviors, they are at the same time learning to adopt state-of-the-art neuroscience, emotional intelligence and agility recalibration models that empower them to discover what’s not working, name it, and pivot individual and team output towards high performance.

By the end of these challenges, teams understand how to communicate productively, provide constructive feedback, proactively set and accomplish goals, and own individual roles within the larger context of the organization’s objectives.

In Conclusion

Positively shifting an organization’s culture should not be done with a quick fix. There is no replacement for understanding and educating the people in the human system to lead, navigate, and operate well in the face of change. Leaders must become champions of change to guarantee the organization’s alignment.

Addressing your organization’s need for a culture change is best done by beginning with a Level Set event where the workforce can understand why the change is needed, how the company will approach the transition, and the benefits it will produce. Doing so maximizes the company’s and the workforce’s effectiveness throughout the transformation process leading to successful implementation of the new corporate culture and a high-performance organization.

About the Author

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Magi Graziano

Magi Graziano, as seen on NBC, is the CEO of KeenAlignment, an award-winning keynote speaker, and author of The Wealth of Talent. Recognized as one of Silicon Valley’s Top 100 Influential Women in Business and known for her courageous authenticity and massively impactful coaching style, Magi brings 20 years of experience to empowerment, collaboration, and alignment with an unwavering focus on helping companies raise both their employee morale and their bottom line. For more information on Magi, please visit www.KeenAlignment.com.