Autumn means returning to routine. But should it?
I love the changing seasons, and autumn is one of my favorites. The air chills, the leaves start to put on their show of colors, the kids return to school, and a comforting routine takes over. This got me thinking about the pros and cons of taking comfort in our routines — at home and the office.
On the one hand, my workplace routine is like putting on a cozy sweater. It’s easy, familiar, and safe. On the other hand, if I don’t change my routine and push to think outside the box, then I’m limiting my growth potential. My end-result becomes predictable.
I don’t mind leveraging the power of routines, but I don’t want to be seen as predictable.
Company culture is another area that can benefit from a new, even unpredictable, approach. As I think about how we assess, tweak, and improve our culture, I question whether we rely on our routines too much when we decide whom to ask for input and assistance. In my experience, we look too much to those who are extroverted and outspoken — those who are willing to speak up and share their opinions.
There’s nothing wrong with that, but let me push you out of your routine. Why not go to the team members who are the quiet ones, the ones who don’t ask for attention? These team members are easily overlooked but have a huge impact on culture.
I also encourage you to root out the contrarians. We’re naturally attracted to those who share our beliefs, ideals, and outlook, which means we’re more likely to ask for input from team members who will support our decisions and agree with our tactics.
Everyone likes validation. It’s human nature to like someone to agree with us. It’s uncomfortable to ask for input from naysayers, and it’s easy to discount the opinions of the Negative Nelly. But I encourage you to overtly invite them into the cultural conversation. And when they highlight a challenge in your company culture, ask them to say more. Don’t let them off the hook with just dropping their bomb — push them out of their routine. Urge them to examine the challenge more deeply and, here’s the kicker, offer a viable solution.