Great Workplace Cultures

Great Workplace Cultures

When it comes to developing a great workplace culture, leaders play the most critical role

Change, of course, is a given. Businesses and people have external and internal forces that must be addressed if one is to thrive. However, to thrive in the 21st century personally and professionally requires a different kind of leader and a different approach to leading change.

For example, have you ever been white water rafting? There are many variables to consider and plan for prior to embarking on what can be a fatal journey. First, there are six grades of white water. Grade 1 requires only a basic skill level because there is essentially no white water and the rocks, if any, don’t present a problem for the raft or the passengers.

At the other end of the white water continuum is Grade 6 – it is considered so dangerous it is essentially not navigable. Grade 6 white water has huge waves and huge rocks. It is so hazardous the rafters can expect the raft will be destroyed and the rafters will most likely suffer serious injury and/or death. The skill level required to attempt a grade 6 is that you have successfully navigated a grade 6 “without serious injury or death.” In other words, any rafter, no matter what the skill level, who attempts to navigate a grade 6, has a death wish.

There are several points we can take from the sport of white water rafter and apply it to leading and managing change in your business.


Prepare For the Journey

    1. White water rafting can be a leisure sport or it can be an extreme sport. Before embarking on a journey, the rafters must decide how much risk they are willing to take, their budget, and the level of expertise they have for all required roles.
    2. Based on the answers to #1, decide the grade of white water and location
    3. Select the crew: hire a skilled guide at the stern (the leader). Assess the skill level of the other rafters – train if needed. Prepare all for their role.
    4. Stock the boat: select the appropriate raft, and additional equipment for a safe and successful journey
    5. Plan for contingencies. What if:
      • You arrive at the river to find it is a grade 5 – not a grade 4 as planned? Do you and your team have the right skills, the right raft, the right amount of risk tolerance, etc.?
      • The raft gets a hole and sinks before you reach your destination? Whom will you call? How will you return home?
      • What if someone falls ill or is injured? Do you continue without them? Can you continue? Who will stay behind? Will they be safe if you leave them?
      • What if the boat capsizes? What will be damaged or lost? Can everyone swim? How cold is the water?
      • What if someone drowns?

leadership attitude_edited-184Go with The Flow: Effective Rafting Requires Minimizing Resistance and Maximizing Resilience

The rougher the river, the more important it is to know how to navigate the waters and the obstacles to safely arrive at your destination. If the conditions are very rough, the journey is very long, and there is very little opportunity to stop along the banks to rest, then it is critical to manage your energy by minimizing resistance. Go with the flow conserving your energy for addressing obstacles.

There is a lot of planning that goes into having fun; the same goes for managing change! When all goes well, it is fun; when there are unexpected obstacles and someone is hurt, that could spell disaster.

I know; we went white water rafting in Bali. When we signed up for the optional day tour, they told us it was a Grade 2 day: some rough water, maybe some rocks; skill level – basic paddling. Look at the picture -you can see it wasn’t a 2, in fact it was a Grade 5. If you want to read more, I wrote a blog about our nearly fatal adventure.

As with any personal journey, you cannot anticipate all the obstacles you will meet during a change project. However, you can plan for how to lead, design, staff, and implement the change. The most important criterion to thrive personally and professionally is resilience – the ability to bounce back quickly from frequent and annoying setbacks and upsets.

Is your workforce able to adapt to change and increase their effectiveness on the job?

Change is inevitable; thriving is not. Your business has a greater likelihood of thriving in this dynamic 21st century business environment when you select for and build a capacity for resilience in yourself and others.

The next most important criteria to building change agility are in the planning, mobilizing, implementing and leveraging phases of change management. Cynder Niemela brings expertise and 20 years of demonstrated success in helping leaders, teams and organizations sustain meaningful transformation. We engage you and your team in fostering a resilient and agile culture that can better respond to current and future changing conditions. Our objective is to pass our knowledge to you while integrating seamlessly into current ways of conducting business.

Do you want to grade your next change and the readiness of your organization to make the journey?  Contact Cynder to schedule a complimentary assessment by phone or email.