Leaping Past Cotton Candy Team Training

Author: Sylvia Lafair
Published: April 07, 2011 at 6:28 pm

According to the Spring 2011 issue of Strategy and Business, culture is back on the corporate agenda. Culture, that elusive aspect of the workplace environment; check out any corporate survey and you will, most assuredly, find a curious combination of lovers and haters in the same organization.

Let’s peel this phenomenon back. Did you ever wonder why people can be in the same meeting for several hours and come out with such diverse perspective of what worked and what didn’t?

Cotton CandyThink for a moment about a group sitting around a business conference table listening to people present ideas and possibilities. They come to agreements, and then scatter to go back to their work areas; yet, almost always clusters form for “after the meeting” meetings. Comments, sometimes subtle, sometimes nasty, almost always whispered, are debated about the “great ideas” or “asinine decisions.”

Let’s peel this phenomenon back even further. Think about sitting around your family dinner table when you were a kid. There was a “family meeting” where parents, like bosses led the discussion. You and your siblings left the “meeting” and whispered about the “great ideas” or “asinine decisions”.

Here is a major issue, mostly overlooked, as to why it is so amazingly difficult to create an aligned culture in the workplace — because it was amazingly difficult to do so in the family. We bring what we learned from our original organization, the family into our present work organization.

No, none of us does this consciously, and that is precisely why it is such a problem.

If you ever sit with your siblings and talk about the past, it is fascinating that two or more bright, competent adults can see the same situation so differently. It has to do with each one’s place in this very complex inter-generational system.
Example: Jane talked about her mother in glowing terms, all warm and fuzzy memories. Older brother Alex saw her as an opinionated, domineering witch. And the youngest, Sally saw her mother as a weak woman unable to make decisions.

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Article Author: Sylvia Lafair

Sylvia Lafair, PhD, is a business leadership expert and President of CEO – Creative Energy Options, Inc., a global consulting company focused on redefining leadership and optimizing workplace relationships. Dr. …

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