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Paula Marshall's Blog

The musings of a female CEO, trying to change the way business is done.

Tag Archives: corporate culture

IQ is to EQ what your Brain is to your Heart.

Although in theory we know the different between IQ and EQ, it is still hard to put it into practice during our daily lives. From birth we are programmed to rely on our IQs to pass tests, conquer challenges and move ahead in the world. We are never tested at our EQ. No wonder so many of us have underdeveloped or non-existent emotional lives.

When EQ is left out of the equation, we become robotic. We compartmentalize our lives into work, leisure and sleep. When we incorporate our Emotional Quotient into our daily relations, we are able to unify our lives. Work becomes fun, enriching and exciting. We discover our coworkers and know them deeply, we are not just rats in a maze together anymore. Nor do you see your coworkers as competition for promotions and raises. You begin to see them as human beings with rich layers, just as you are. When we celebrate our similarities, we begin to truly work together. IQ is necessary for any job task, of course. But also, any social situation (work, home, or out and about) requires a level of EQ. If the EQ remains undeveloped, we can continue to expect low productivity, workplace drama and gossip as well as high turnover.

Think about ways to incorporate your EQ into every social interaction. What is it like to be in someone else’s shoes? What is motivating your coworkers to behave in certain ways? Are you contributing to workplace discord? These are the questions to ask yourself to begin a road to a more balanced IQ/EQ world.

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Have a problem with competing egos?

To know how to eliminate the Corporate Ego, we must understand what Ego is, both personally and within a corporate culture. According to Freud, the Ego is the part of our brain that is constructed from external feedback. What the world tells us about ourselves, we internalize and this information thus becomes part of who we are–for good or for ill.

In more modern terms, the ego is our pride. Our pride can grow or be diminished by feedback from others, especially those close to us such as our spouses and bosses. The ego is the most fragile part of our personalities because it can be so easily damaged by hearing negative things about ourselves, whether these things are true or not. When the ego rules our actions, things can get out of control very quickly. The ego is fueled and reassured by material goods; salaries, cars and houses are examples.

In the sense of a corporation, a collective ego can exist within a corporation and its members. The ego becomes a part of the corporate culture and this can be very dangerous to the employees and the bottom line. When the ego seeps into corporate culture, people in all parts of the structure begin to fear honest feedback. Honest feedback is the ego’s enemy, because it can be damaging to how we see ourselves. The ego only likes positive, over-inflated feedback, so that it can continue in its original direction–towards acquiring more stuff.

The purest cure for eliminating Corporate Ego is honesty and listening. But the key is, everyone in the structure, no matter their position must be allowed to contribute their honest opinion of what the organization, and its members, could improve on. In contrast, everyone must be listened to in the organization. When suggestions are made, they must be taken seriously no matter who makes them. If you feel your business or the company you work for may be Ego-Infused, the best way to eliminate it is to institute a system for giving and receiving honest feedback.

Sometimes this means hiring a Human Relations specialist, or counselor for your organization. There must be some system of support to build you, your managers, and employees back up after you are all are knocked down and humbled by the first round of feedback. To deflate the ego of a corporation can be scary, and without support people may lose faith in their ability to do a good job.  The goal is to have people believe that they can do their jobs well, but for them to be open to receive feedback and new learning about how to do their jobs better. Ego clouds one’s ability to learn and improve. Eliminating Corporate Ego is one of the most important steps to rebuilding American businesses.

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Here’s the link to my OETA interview. It is about 30 minutes long, so get comfy!
Apologies for not being able to post it directly into the blog…

http://ra.okstate.edu/osu_tulsa/WritingOutLoud/PaulaMarshall/video.htm

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One of our consultants at Bama, Dusty Staub, preaches that the number one factor facing most companies is Fear. Fear presents itself in many capacities. In Susan Older’s recent article, the fear is surrounding the loss of jobs and worsening unemployment rates. This is a concern for those employees who are worried about being the next to go. We’ve all heard stories about perfectly hirable people failing to find jobs and not being able to support themselves. This causes rampant fear for those still in the workplace, and an almost feverish need to follow instructions and diminish reasons to be singled out.

However, in a more traditional economy, fear was still a cause for concern. Fear manifests in these key ways:

  • Fear of Confrontation; being afraid to tell someone how you feel, or confront an issue head on. This can lead to gossip and unnecessary workplace drama.
  • Fear of being ostracized; fear around being criticized for an idea or contribution. This leads to a lack of participation and lack of creativity.
  • Fear of Ridicule; this could have to do with workplace bullying or a hostile work environment. When coworkers are close, there tends to be more of a fear of ridicule, usually the less productive workers ridicule the productive workers about working too hard, or making everyone else look bad. This leads to a slowing down of the productive worker’s achievements.
  • Fear of Discrimination; race, gender and sexual orientation are still issues in a lot of offices. Some minorities choose to fly “under the radar” to avoid being singled out.

Fear is bred from uncertainty. Therefore the way to alleviate fear is to create an environment in which information is openly shared, discussed and understood.  An open and honest environment allows employees to ask questions, to be given feedback and to share concerns. There is much less fear when everyone is accepted as an equal contributor to the team.

In order for an employee to feel confident that they will be accepted, they must be loved and appreciated no matter who they are, they must be given honest feedback, not ridicule, they must feel that they will not be excluded or left out intentionally because of an idea, and they must know that if they confront a problem, it will actually get resolved. This is the key to helping our employees feel safe and secure at work, and not letting fear rule anyone’s decisions.

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Carl Jung presented the idea of a “Collective Unconscious,” which is the idea that people in a society share a part of their unconscious mind. This unconscious holds the memories of how our society, and how humanity, came to be. A popular example is that every major tribal culture, and every major religion has a flood myth. Is this because they all came up with the same idea independently, or because early man experienced a flood and this experience permeated itself into the collective unconscious? Jung suggests the latter.

He also suggests that we inherit Archetypes, or patterns recognized in human behavior, from the collective unconscious. Jung’s idea basically suggests that we perform certain behaviors and harbor certain ideas because they follow the pattern of early man.

Every society around today has descended from a tribal, nomadic culture. When our societies were small groups of people wandering the harsh terrain, there was little or no protection from the elements or from wildlife. The best way to be protected was to amass the largest number of protectors for the tribe. Male warrior types were able to protect the tribe, and thus the tribe’s ability to procreate.

Many times, although there were enough things to worry about, tribes were at war with each other. Competing for food and resources led to an all out need for dominance. Once a tribe was bested, it was absorbed by the winning tribe, adding warriors and more eligible women to the existing lot. This only made the tribe more powerful, and more able to best anyone who came along.

Today, the wars have moved from the savanna to the Board Room. The wars are usually sans-spear, and the participants wear ties and jackets in lieu of loincloths. However, I am struggling to find many more differences than these. We’ve applied the terms “Mergers and Acquisitions,” but the premise is the same. The stronger companies taking over weaker companies in order to increase their influence, and to better be able to fight off the next competitor. Instead of fighting for food and resources, we are now fighting for the bottom line.

My red-blooded, capitalist readers are asking “What’s wrong with that?”

There is nothing wrong with fueling the bottom line, but doing it in a combative, head butting way only poisons our corporate culture. It pits company against company and employee against employee instead of promoting team work and customer focus. When we put our focus on “winning” and “growth” and “profits” it takes our focus off the most important thing, and the thing that will most likely help make us money: keeping the customer happy.

Refusing to participate in these corporate war games will allow everyone in an organization to work together toward a common goal. Instead of plotting and scheming behind each other’s backs, employees will be working for the common good.

As far as mergers go, two companies joining together may not be a bad idea. Are their cultures similar? Do they have similar goals? Can joining the two be mutually advantageous for both parties and contribute something genuine to the culture? If so, I think merging can be a positive step.

However, we must constantly self-examine, and understand our desires to conquer others. If we just want to fuel our own power and position, then we have advanced no further than our tribal ancestors.

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