Culture Change to Community
I recently started a new job at a small consulting firm. It was a really exciting opportunity with a lot of room for growth, and I loved the work. I felt like I had a knack for it and that it could be something I could see myself doing for a long time. The only problem was that the office environment was such a bummer – no one really talked to each other, and when they did, it was with armor. People seemed to be really afraid of each other, and for the most part the little New York office of 12 people was silent, with everyone quietly working at their desks.
I considered my options: 1) leave, 2) suffer through this until I had enough experience in the industry to get another job in the same field, or 3) create the environment I wanted.
I figured the best way to change my reality was to be it. So I chose to be fearless, respectful, generous and playful. I radiated my openness for connection and initiated conversations with people, inviting them to speak and be heard and share that space with me. I made jokes and included everyone in the fun and power of connection – even the exceptionally difficult characters to crack. I showed respect to those who were fearful of not having it, and I listened to people who needed attention. Slowly, people began to shed their layers of fear and separation.
Now, as I look around my office, I see three different clusters of people talking to each other. A few of us go to happy hour around the corner after work sometimes. People have started to respect each other – I haven’t heard anyone raise their voice in months. Of course we all get frustrated, but there’s a general sense of dignity, compassion, and openness that wasn’t there before. People tell me I have transformed the office, but we all did. Sometimes when a door is too heavy, you just need one more set of hands to push it open.