Developing a Positive Culture
Last month we had the opportunity to sit down (virtually) with Marcella Bremer to talk about her work in developing a positive culture in the workplace, her new book, Developing a Positive Culture, and the Positive Culture Academy (classes start April 2nd).
Q. How long have you been focusing on a positive culture in the workplace?
I've been working with culture for more than 20 years, but the focus on a positive culture dates from the last 5 years or so. After university, I landed a job where I brimmed with energy, but after a temporary project ended, I was just "doing time" in an office to pay my bills. I didn't feel appreciated and, worse, it felt like a prison. I started my own company because I wanted more freedom, autonomy, and purpose.
As a consultant working with clients, I encountered culture as a challenge to organizational change. People saying yes but doing no - because it wasn't the habitual "way we do things around here." It was then that I started to work with culture directly, engaging people in Change Circles of 10 colleagues to change together.
Q. What made you decide to write Developing a Positive Culture?
I saw too many people, regardless of their position, surviving at work. Bright employees who claimed higher management torpedoed their ideas and tied their hands. Middle managers who expressed frustration that they couldn't change anything about their teams, let alone the whole organization. Top executives who were worn out and frustrated, just making the best of their long days. In the end, they were all holding each other hostage, going through the daily grind and blaming the others.
Working with several of these cases in a row was the tipping point for me. I developed Interaction Interventions and Change Circles, which eventually turned into the book, Developing a Positive Culture.
Q. What do you expect people to take away from the book?
I expect people to take action if they hate Mondays! You do make a difference to the organizational system, and organizations are non-linear networks that you can influence. Culture happens when people get together because they copy, coach, and correct each other all the time. Culture is sustained in every interaction, so if you start changing interaction patterns, you start to influence the system. Developing a Positive Culture shares many tools to help individuals develop a more positive culture using Interaction Interventions and/or Change Circles.
Q. What drove you to start the Positive Culture Academy?
The book offers an overview and is very practical, but it's great to have more personal support and to customize the tools to your situation. The Positive Culture Academy focuses on how you can be the change you wish to see on your team. The Academy helps you apply positive leadership in your situation. We offer interactive training with video lectures, individual assignments, partner work, a dialogue group, and conference calls (starting April 2nd).
Q. Who would benefit from attending the Positive Culture Academy? Who did you have in mind when you created the Academy?
Those middle managers that felt powerless, and even a bit defeated, inspired me to create the book and the Academy. Wouldn't it be great to have access to a positive resource, no matter where you are located, even if you have little time?
The Academy wants to support leaders of all levels, middle managers, supervisors, but also other working professionals. If you are a team member, you can enroll as well. Everyone can do interaction interventions, regardless of their position! Not only can you strengthen yourself with a positive mindset, you can also engage others in a positive way and work towards positive results.
Q. If you could offer one piece of advice that would help the readers start making a positive change in their workplace TODAY, what would it be?
First, accept that big change can start small. If you influence one person, one interaction at a time, you contribute to a more positive culture. Just like one candle can light a room!
Next, what you can do is to ask more questions. Asking is engaging the other person and learning about what matters to them. Let's ask more questions and assume less. Ask genuine questions that you're interested to hear the answer to. If we would all ask more questions and listen to the answers, our workplaces would become more positive.
The Academy's first class starts April 2nd. You can register at www.positive-culture.com. Contact Marcella via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more about Developing a Positive Culture, or buy the book on Amazon.