How can we permeate empathy throughout the organizational culture?

If you look at the typology in an organization, there are three organizational cultures as identified by Ron Westrum. One is pathological, which is very power-oriented. This is where you have very low cooperation; the messenger is usually shot, responsibility is avoided, collaboration is discouraged, you fail, you are scapegoated, or you are made an example—a cautionary tale to the rest of the organization. It’s a very, very toxic environment. Any kind of novelty is crushed. The next kind of organizational culture is bureaucratic, which is very process-driven and rule-oriented. There's a decent amount of cooperation, but usually, the messengers are ignored. It's very opportunistic collaboration, so unless they get some value out of things, they're not going to cooperate. Collaboration is kind of tolerated, and if you fail, they try to get justice. They try to impose some sort of punitive measure so that other people will learn from it. This is not very healthy, but it is still way better than pathological. The third one is generative, which is the ideal cultural state of an organization, where you have high cooperation, you're connecting, you're collaborating, you're high performing, and you embrace failure. In this culture, failure is considered part of learning. And when you're an empathic leader in a very power-oriented or toxic organization, what you want to do is you want to start moving from that pathological organization all the way up to generative. If you want empathy to permeate through your organization’s culture, reward empathy. If someone is empathic, reward them. Tangible rewards. That actually helps change the culture. It helps remove manual toil and friction. In my book, I go into more detail about this initiative called Project Athena that we used as an empathy engine for the entire organization and tried to reduce the manual toil and friction. We had a tremendous amount of productivity gains and value gains out of it by just helping people go home quicker and spending time with their loved ones. And that's a powerful story.  Look at your value stream and try to find your pain points, and eliminate those points of waste. You want to improve the flow within your organizations, increase the value. Make things flow better so your productivity increases. As your productivity increases, people start becoming much more prouder of their teams. They become high-performing teams, and their team bonding increases, so the empathy level increases within the organization. At the same time, you're going to hit all your numbers out of the realm of what's being measured.  Share stories. I know that a lot of us in IT are introverted. You don't have to tell a story physically, but you can send a newsletter. You can share in an email all the glorious things that your team has done. Create a great dashboard that you can share with the organization, a webpage that continuously updates real-time. Infographics, those are good things. And by sharing that, not only does the team get appreciation, but they also get serotonin, and you get serotonin because you're feeling proud about your team.

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If you look at the typology in an organization, there are three organizational cultures as identified by Ron Westrum. One is pathological, which is very power-oriented. This is where you have very low cooperation; the messenger is usually shot, responsibility is avoided, collaboration is discouraged, you fail, you are scapegoated, or you are made an example—a cautionary tale to the rest of the organization. It’s a very, very toxic environment. Any kind of novelty is crushed. The next kind of organizational culture is bureaucratic, which is very process-driven and rule-oriented. There's a decent amount of cooperation, but usually, the messengers are ignored. It's very opportunistic collaboration, so unless they get some value out of things, they're not going to cooperate. Collaboration is kind of tolerated, and if you fail, they try to get justice. They try to impose some sort of punitive measure so that other people will learn from it. This is not very healthy, but it is still way better than pathological. The third one is generative, which is the ideal cultural state of an organization, where you have high cooperation, you're connecting, you're collaborating, you're high performing, and you embrace failure. In this culture, failure is considered part of learning. And when you're an empathic leader in a very power-oriented or toxic organization, what you want to do is you want to start moving from that pathological organization all the way up to generative. If you want empathy to permeate through your organization’s culture, reward empathy. If someone is empathic, reward them. Tangible rewards. That actually helps change the culture. It helps remove manual toil and friction. In my book, I go into more detail about this initiative called Project Athena that we used as an empathy engine for the entire organization and tried to reduce the manual toil and friction. We had a tremendous amount of productivity gains and value gains out of it by just helping people go home quicker and spending time with their loved ones. And that's a powerful story.  Look at your value stream and try to find your pain points, and eliminate those points of waste. You want to improve the flow within your organizations, increase the value. Make things flow better so your productivity increases. As your productivity increases, people start becoming much more prouder of their teams. They become high-performing teams, and their team bonding increases, so the empathy level increases within the organization. At the same time, you're going to hit all your numbers out of the realm of what's being measured.  Share stories. I know that a lot of us in IT are introverted. You don't have to tell a story physically, but you can send a newsletter. You can share in an email all the glorious things that your team has done. Create a great dashboard that you can share with the organization, a webpage that continuously updates real-time. Infographics, those are good things. And by sharing that, not only does the team get appreciation, but they also get serotonin, and you get serotonin because you're feeling proud about your team.
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