Confusion is a good thing

Organizational culture change can feel like a big undertaking. But, if you break it down into little steps, it becomes more doable. It’s something that happens over time, little by little, one step after the other.

Now, one required ingredient of culture change is confusion, or more specifically, cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance happens when your mind and your actions don’t match.

Here’s a simple example: Your mind says you value time (your own and others), but you arrive late to a team meeting. Then you experience cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance is very stressful for us and we’ll do just about anything to relieve it. That means we’ll either change our thoughts, or change our actions, so the two can align.

You’ll either convince your mind that your tardiness isn’t doing any harm or that it was absolutely necessary in that scenario, OR you might make a point to change your actions and be on time in the future. Either will solve the cognitive dissonance.

If there is bullying in your workplace, some might think it’s normal because they’ve been around bullying, or been engaging in bullying, for a while now. Their mind says it’s normal, so they engage in bullying or have convinced themselves it’s normal in order to align their mind and actions.

Others might think it’s not normal, and they are caught in the hell of cognitive dissonance every day at work. Their mind says bullying isn’t okay, yet they endure it day after day. Their mind and actions don’t match.

Start asking your employees to engage in positive action items and cognitive dissonance will work to your advantage. Those who bully will be forced to act in positive ways that go against their mindset, and they will have to shift their mindset to match their new positive behavior in order to relieve the cognitive dissonance.

If they don’t shift their mindset, then they will no longer thrive in your new and improved positive culture. One client I worked with had two “bullies” quit when they realized this culture change was for real.

Those who do not bully will of course welcome the positive change. Your initiative will relieve their cognitive dissonance and they will be forever grateful.

Learn more about the ins and outs of solving workplace bullying by attending my two-day intensive course. Click here to fill out an application.

The course will take place here in San Diego, CA, on December 5 and 6, 2016, from 8:30 to 4:30 each day.

Half of the seats are already gone, so claim your spot ASAP by filling out the application.

Anyone who wants to learn how to solve bullying can attend – internal HR professionals, external consultants, attorneys, EAP’s, workplace violence experts, risk management experts… anyone.

I’ll be teaching Jedi mind tricks (ok, no interplanetary tricks, just human skills) to get cognitive dissonance working for you, and other strategies that will literally transform your company culture. Hope you can join me.

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Civility Partners
Your partner in building a positive workplace so your employees can thrive