3 Rules of Engagement for Making You and Your Organization Stronger
A house is only as strong as its foundation. A solid foundation gives the house a firm base allowing for less structural issues over time. This is also true for an organization. A strong foundation allows the organization to maintain an un-fractured workplace where individuals, who make up this foundation, reduce cracks in communication, relationships, and help keep the focus on the goals of the organization. An un-fractured workplace impacts employee engagement, corporate culture, and even the bottom line. The challenge most organizations face when building their behavioral organizational foundation is creating an intentional plan for how to strengthen the human supports of their structure. Rules of engagement can add that extra support, like rebar added to concrete when creating the base of a house.
Without rebar in the foundation a house becomes more at risk for breaks and fractures as you build and add weight to the structure. This increased risk of fracturing also occurs within an organization. Individuals (concrete) within the organization need to be structurally solid in order to keep the house strong as more work and goals are added to the organizational house.
The challenge most organizations face when building their behavioral organizational foundation is creating an intentional plan for how to strengthen the human supports of their structure.
The rules of engagement become the rebar in the concrete for this human foundation. When an individual is put under stress you can reduce the chance of fractures to the organization by integrating these rules of engagement as added support for the human concrete of your organization.
In my experiences I have found three rules of engagement that work together to help put a strong foundation in place. These rules of engagement also help individuals look at the bigger, more long-term implications for how actions impact where you are going and how you are getting there. Looking ahead to see what is being built on top of the foundation increases the chance of keeping the house balanced and minimizing the cracks.
The Rebar-Three Rules of Engagement
Remember these rules have to be cured into the concrete (individuals) to be effective- Take the time to strengthen the foundation.
1. Personal Intention Mission Statement
Choose two or three adjectives to describe who you want to be as a person, or the environment you want your organization to create. These adjectives become the core behavior for how you or the people in your organization deal with any situation. These adjectives have to be words that describe behavior you can control (friendly, helpful, compassionate). These words cannot be words like happy because sometimes you cannot control if you are happy. It also can’t be a goal like more money or a new car. Your PIMS words are what I call default behaviors that give you focus when you become distracted with activity around you.
Rebar = Behavior
PIMS words would not include words such as grumpy, rude, or disorganized. The process still works, but you would probably get a much different house.
2. Words and Actions Match
Fractures occur when there is not cohesion between words and actions. For each action that does not match your PIMS words, or if your PIMS do not match the verbal commitments you make to yourself or other people, then a tiny fracture occurs between individuals. The more fractures that occur, the more cracks in the concrete (individuals), and the weaker the house.
Fractures from disconnected words and actions break trust and decrease accountability. Matching words and actions makes you more in sync with yourself, other people and the world around you.
Fractures from disconnected words and actions break trust and decrease accountability.
3. Alignment of Beliefs/Perceptions with Observable Reality
The best way to describe this part of the process is to give an example: Belief/Perception – He is lazy. That is wrong. He is incompetent. (Notice the theme of judgment with these statements). Observable Reality – I do not care for the way he did that project. She did not make the deadline for that project. He is talking to me in a way I do not care for at work. (Notice the non-judgment, just stating information) This is a subtle shift in thinking, but it keeps the focus on the situation instead of the judgment of the person. When the focus of a conversation trends toward beliefs and perceptions you lose the focus for what you want to accomplish. You can put a boundary on a person not completing a deadline. You cannot really put a boundary on someone being “incompetent” at work.
The Cycle for Reducing Fractures in the Foundation (individual)
You start to feel frustrated or upset or scattered. Remember your PIMS words, friendly, efficient, helpful, whatever words you chose. Make sure you are supporting these words in a way that does not put responsibility on anyone but yourself (you are the concrete). Keep the focus on what you can control, not on what you wish would happen.
When the focus of a conversation trends toward beliefs and perceptions you lose the focus for what you want to accomplish.
Then, think of and take actions that support your PIMS adjectives. For instance, if your PIMS words are friendly and helpful, then your actions would be words and actions that matched this word. If you raise your voice, frown, and refuse to work with anyone that would not support your PIMS words of friendly. Think about what actions would support these words, then put the actions into motion. The focus then stays on what actions you can take that are friendly and helpful, and also keeps the focus on the goals you are trying to achieve using your PIMS words. Actions should match PIMS words and the commitments you have made either verbally or in writing. This focus on PIMS and matching words and actions helps to take the focus away from judging people through the lens of your beliefs/perceptions. The less time you spend on judgment of others and yourself, the more time you have to spend on getting where you want to go in the way you choose. Look at the situation causing you frustration or anger or scatteredness from the observable realities. Make choices about how to respond to these observations with actions that match words. You can also use these rules as a way to measure accountability and transparency.
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This cycle of thinking becomes the structural, solid foundation for how you do business, manage change, reduce apathy, and increase engagement. With these three rules of engagement working together you add a little extra rebar in the foundation of your life or the life of you organization.
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