Baggage Weighs Down Culture

Posted by Kristin Baird

Everyone has some baggage. For some, it’s as small as a sandwich bag, but for others, baggage is as weighty as a full moving van. What we choose to carry is fully up to us. When it comes to culture, baggage can impede each of our ability to contribute. Let me explain.

A few years ago, we were coaching an executive team in defining their desired culture and what they needed to do to create that culture. They were excited and committed to making transformational change. As we did individual interviews, we identified baggage that was dragging down progress.

One director was quite verbal about her feelings. She told us, “I feel discounted. Everything you are recommending is the same things I’ve been recommending for the past three years. When I proposed them, my voice fell on deaf ears. Now, when you say the same thing, everyone is listening and inspired.”

The Teacher will Appear

What she said is not uncommon, and she has every right to feel frustrated. No one wants to feel discounted or insignificant. My response was one borrowed from Buddha, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

I can give countless examples of this type of conversation throughout my consulting career and also from my experience in hospital leadership. The real challenge for me was learning to let go of the resentment so that I could be an active part of the solution.

In every organizational change, there will be people who had envisioned the change months or weeks before the momentum was accepted and acted on. Honor work done, and explain that the current momentum is about timing and readiness. Great minds think alike. When you hear statements like; “I tried to implement this last year and administration shot it down.” Or “We’ve been doing this for years, but leaders never recognized the work done. Now it’s their idea, so it’s a good one.”

Give credit for their efforts and assure them that the time is now to make their ideas a reality. They were just ahead of the organization’s readiness. This type of response works wonders in helping dump old baggage and encourage enthusiastic pioneers to join the efforts of change.

  1. The Magnifying Glass and the Mirror
  2. Can You Handle the Truth?
  3. “Patients are just too demanding!”
  4. Change the Culture, Change the Patient Experience
  5. Silos & Turf Wars and Grudges- Oh my!
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