Culture Shift Keys: a f'real culture
In the vast expanse of life, nothing is more powerful than having a voice. That feeling is immensely powerful. There are moments in life that our voice feels drowned out. We can feel confused, alone, shipwrecked and abandoned. These feelings can be overwhelming. What do you do, when you think you lead well, but your sense of worth in that career comes quickly to an end? When your voice is no longer heard or valued?
Two years ago, that was me; 28 years working in the mental health field. I was giving life my all and helping people that were my passion. I hit a transition year where I linked arms with a new culture that I thought aligned with my values, me only to discover that what appeared wonderful, became a facade. But, you didn't come here to listen to me moan about my past, you are looking for value alignment and how you can change your culture.
Culture matters in the business world. In fact a great culture not only draws people to to it, they can retain great people. I am privileged in this season of my life not only to coach amazing people in my business; setting the pace of my culture. I also have been blessed to be a part of a company whose culture aligns with my personal values as a life coach. That company is f'real foods; whose headquarters is in Emeryville, California and their call center is located in Lee's Summit, Missouri. As part of their leadership a big part of my job is getting to coach people inside this culture and helping them reach their personal and professional goals.
Creating a positive culture comes in a lot of small packages, that create meaning in peoples lives. Today I want to focus on one of those jewels. Its is part of my f'real culture and part of my coaching practice. At first this may seem too simple and you may ask, will that really matter. Learning to hear what people are saying and what they are not saying - assuming good intentions. This is empowering!
Listening is a skill.
We live in a fast paced society and we talk a lot about multi tasking. Really what that means is we are willing to let something matter less in the moment while we do a secondary task. For example meeting with your supervisor for a 1:1 coaching session and they choose to respond to texts and email partially listening to what you have to say. That is not being fully in the moment. So let me tell you a magical formula for drawing people to your leadership and how it changes your culture. Its just one part of the recipe.
What It Means To Truly Listen
Placing value on the person in front of you, means you really listen. You lean in, give that person your undivided attention. As you listen, you are not looking for what you want to say next, instead, be in the moment. Listening deeply; hear what they say with their words, body language, tone of voice, breathing, eye contact - listen with all your heart. We are uniquely created in all of creation. If your are a person of faith - this connection with our creator helps us put pieces of the puzzle together. Inside this faith we believe we are created for fellowship and connection. Even if you are not a person of faith, you know that your are were wired for connection. If our current pandemic has told us anything; being separated from friends, family and co-workers is painful. You long to connect, to be truly heard, and acknowledged for your worth. Nothing says you matter more than someone that comes to the table and hears your heart.
As I listen, I clarify. So what I hear you saying is....fill in the blank. You see listening requires clarifying questions. What I am saying is, you matter, I want to understand and I am making sure I am hearing you. When you are in a subordinate position you may feel like you are defending a position or you may be confused about expectations or just frustrated with a situation at work. In all of this to feel heard - it is empowering. When people feel heard they feel valued.
Learn to ask questions of the person in front of you not to clarify necessarily for you, but to help them expand on the thoughts inside them. Ask open ended questions. Where will this choice take you? What about this opportunity excites you? Can you unpack that for me. This type of curiosity lets your employee dream. It helps them clarify for themselves what they need. Then they can gains traction for direction and it can help you both look at next steps. Great leaders help people gain forward momentum. They inspire in unusual ways - the power of listening and asking questions that lead to actionable steps for their careers and lives. This is the stuff we long for!
Let me clarify what deep listening is not. This is not about emotional manipulation. It is not about flirtation. Its about seeing another persons perspective. It is about, the power of deep listening, and assuming good intentions. This last statement - a 'f'realie" cultural value is powerful. I am believing in your intentions. In doing so I place value on what you have to say. That is grounding for you as a leader, because people come to us at times frustrated. They may believe you will lead them like others have in the past - disconnected, leading only with their own agenda. People come to us with their own emotional baggage. If you fail to connect by your failure to listen you are seen as a poor leader. Rightly so. When you communicate that you care about them as a person and you want them to succeed; well that is a game changer. It is built over time. One great meeting will not be the life changer. Yet its a start.
Supervisors / Managers / Leaders that are the most respected are powerful communicators. Powerful communicators not only have a message - they listen well. They are well read. The seek connection with people. Today you are surrounded by people that want a voice. Give them back their voice. You are surrounded by people that other leaders have ignored. Do not ignore them. Set aside consistent weekly to bi-weekly meetings with people that serve with you.
Remember, the confidence someone placed in you to lead was so that you would lead with excellence. Great leaders care about their people. Why? Because business is about more than profit. Its about teams. Teams are built on culture. If you want to have extraordinary retention rates and people that will do anything for you. Learn to listen deeply - clarify - be curious. Then help your team members to work towards action steps to be more productive. Help them to become better people. Coach them to success.
If this sounds too simple. Well, I get (choose) to live it every day. I love getting do this in my coaching practice. I love getting to coach as a leader in my f'real foods culture . I place value on people and they in turn work hard to achieve our shared and individual goals. It all starts with a culture where people feel heard, valued, and have a voice. Why not emulate the f'real culture in your company and and watch what happens.
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Randy serves as a Personal Life Coach and Serves as a Leader at f'real foods. This blog is not an endorsement by f'real foods or Rich's Corp. He is merely a representative of what a great culture believes and embodies.