November  28,  2018

Work style is how things get done. It’s the day-to-day manifestation of your organization’s culture — the unspoken way we work and deliver projects. It’s framed by purpose and guided by values.

During times of intense change, it’s important to be aware of your organization’s work style, and to honor it. Transformation projects are stressful enough to knock even the strongest of us off-course. The best way to help your organization is to stay true to what works for you.

There are three key areas of focus.

Communication.   How much communication does your organization need? What kinds of communication work for you? The channels might be formal, informal or a combination.  Every organization is different. For example, if your teams are highly focused on running an operation, or they are spread out geographically, you might need dedicated, in-person events like town halls to reach them.  Who are credible messengers to spread the word, — managers or respected peers?  It’s critical to know what it takes to get employees to focus their attention.

Consensus Requirements. Does your organization run on consensus? The answer drives the speed of decision-making. Whose opinion matters? If all the key people need to buy in, build in time to gain that consensus. Identify which stakeholders have to bless each decision, follow a process, and make sure the teams know their voices have been heard. Depending on the topic, you might need less consensus. Take advantage of that – push work to the lowest-level teams that can make the decision.

Relationships vs. Structure.  To what extent does work get done through deep relationships vs. systems and process? If relationships are important, plan for that.  Create a framework that fosters relationships. For example, create robust onboarding, recognition methods, and celebration rituals.  Relationship-based cultures will resist too much structure if it’s visible. If your teams are more systems-oriented, lean on those processes. But be careful – it’s easy to ignore a well-oiled machine. Make sure you review processes — at least annually — to ensure they help employees to their best work. Identify and close any gaps.

Clarifying your organization’s best working styles helps leadership strike the right balance between empowerment and accountability.  And it makes any big transformation so much easier.

So, what’s your style?