Culture and Dirty Dishes

Sounds odd having culture and dishes in the same sentence.


But interestingly, there is a correlation between the two.


Dirty dishes, and the frustration thereof, transcends industries.

It appears to be a common issue.


The thing that is also, unfortunately, common, is the solution leaders tend to take.

Yes, you guessed it (as you probably have this in your workplace), they put up a sign, expressly advising you to clean up your own mess! Or they set up a roster!


Does it work?


Generally, not.


Adults tend to not like being told how or what to do by leaders plastering signage all over the place.


You see, the issue is not the dishes. It is the culture of the business that is lacking a sense of pride, a sense of care for one another, as sense of belonging.

And this all comes back to leadership.


And when you must resort to putting up various signs to employees, you have lost control.


So how do we change behaviour?


It is incumbent upon leaders to set the tone of the organization, to ensure that employees are aligned to the Vision, its Values and what everyone sees, the Behaviours.


I recommend regular check-ins. And by regular, I don’t mean monthly or bi-annually….do it every 2 weeks for 30-60 minutes. Invest your time into your team.

Don’t find an excuse to postpone or cancel the meeting, that will only tell your employee that the report, other meeting, phone call, or something else was more important than them!


When you do sit down, do it in a safe space where genuine conversations can be held, don’t sit behind a desk, go out for a coffee, sit on a bench in the sunshine in the park, you get my point, don’t make it so formal and ‘top-down’.


Ask open-ended questions, don’t talk much, and listen more.


Guide the employee towards your values and be able to clearly articulate the organization's vision and culture, and what they can do to support and encourage it.

Over time, you will find that the dishes will get done.



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