Chatting with a new client earlier this week, we were chatting about the link between emotions and values. Emotional culture can be tricky to understand (as can emotions in general!), but the easiest way I explain it is with a simple 3-step model.
Emotions drive Behaviours. And Behaviours drive the Values.
In traditional culture work, it was said that culture is anchored from the values, conceptual words on a wall (or corporate document), and the behaviours provide the do’s and don’ts – what we will tolerate, what we’ll do, not do and how we’ll do it.
But in fact, Emotions = Behaviours = Values
In my early years in HR, we probably would have run activities based on what the values mean from an aspirational perspective….what they should look like, how they should show up in our work, relationships, meetings, decision making etc. This is ok, but it simply gives us a snapshot of what we want – not how to get there.
In truth, working top down from the values has limitations in really understanding and articulating organisational behaviours – because knowing the values on a cognitive level doesn’t take into account the emotional environment.
When I work with values and the behavioural framework that usually sits behind a values set, we work at an emotional level – what do we need to feel to be successful, and what don’t we want to feel (but might from time to time). We unpack what these emotions look like when they show up, and how they move us toward, or away from our values.
Because emotions drive behaviour, and our behaviours are how our values are realised.
Getting insights into the emotions that cause us to behave in certain ways really helps us understand the root causes of why our values are not aligned, or not being met. This exploration and deep dive into the way people are feeling – and consequently acting, or behaving, supports us to get clarity on what the actual values of the organisation are from the practices, habits and rituals that are part of the organisational fabric. We explore the cognitive culture (the cognitive processes and behaviours that define how people perceive and process information, make decisions, and interact with others) as well as the emotional drivers and enablers that create cultures.
This is the work that I am most called on to do, and the work I am most passionate about.
If you feel like your organisation could do with an emotional culture temperature check, let’s chat!