4 ACoAs & DISSOCIATION – Memory

PREVIOUS : Dissociation – Emotions

SITEs : “How Human Memory Works

Forgotten Memories of Traumatic Events Get Some Backing from Brain-Imaging Studies

MEMORIES  = Different types are stored across different inter-connected brain regions ⬇️
▫️Explicit ones are about events that happened to you (episodic), as well as general facts & information (semantic).
▫️Implicit ones don’t require deliberate recall of past events or info (learned motor skills), & we can access them without even trying

Short-term working memories rely most heavily on the prefrontal cortex, carried to the brain’s structural core where they’re compared with existing ones & then stored in long-term memory.
This process occurs in an instant, but is not always perfect, because incoming information races from neuron to neuron. If a particular route is not used often, the transmission may be incomplete, leading to either a faulty memory or none at all.

Normal memories are a combination of :
Narrative context or story of what’s happening (RED : I’m walking to grandmother’s house with a basket of cupcakes)

Sensory – (I can see the trees & smell the flowers in the woods, feel the red cape on my back…)

Emotional – (I’m a little worried about rumors of the big, bad wolf in the forest)

When heavily traumatized, especially as children, our memories get separated into one or more these 3 components. It’s suggested that the brain does this to keep functioning & not ‘crash’ or be physically injured.
And in Complex Trauma, barriers are formed between parts of Self, to keep excruciating memories away from daily functioning parts.

Dissociation & MEMORY
Dissociation is mainly about repressed or forgotten memories. The brain can hide those that are particularly terrifying from trauma. This is long or short-term protection when the emotional pain of events are too intense. But in the long run, suppressed memories can create serious mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD & dissociative disorders (DD) (More….)

The brain is designed to memorize & retain info it considers important for our survival & for adapting to our environment.
IF it doesn’t store info at all or dissociates from an event, it’s the mind’s hardwired protection, so don’t assume there’s something wrong with your mental ability.
★ In fact – it’s an adaptive mechanism we should respect & value. (POSTS: “INFO : How the Brain Learns“)

The brain stores the parts of experiences it considers vital, & “forgets” the rest. With extreme stress, such memories are suppressed, because the brain :
♦︎ is temporarily out of power & can’t encode anything more
♦︎ considers that the memories may jeopardize survival, so stores them in a different place, or
♦︎ is working to keep the person afloat, so ‘assumes’ it’s unnecessary to store the memory in an accessible way.

EXP re. memory components: If Little Red Riding Hood (OR any ACoA) goes to therapy, she (he) might say :

Option 1. “I keep picturing a wolf in the woods, but that doesn’t make sense, not like a real memory. Did that even happen?”
Option 2. Or – she smells tree & flower scents when not in the forest, & that makes her feel uneasy (or crazy)

Option 3. Or – just feels anxiety / panic, but doesn’t know why
Option 4. Or – she can have all 3 symptoms & not know they’re all about one experience (Modified from “Memory Fragments & Reassociation“)

♦︎ She (he) / you did encounter the wolf (bad parents, spouses, bosses….) & survived, but the traumatic events have remained as fragmented memories – making the person doubt themself.
☁︎ The brain doesn’t register experiences as ‘real’ unless they include all 3 memory-parts, & will only reconnect them when we feels ‘safe’ enough.

POSITIVE : Fortunately this is do-able, by talking to safe knowledgable people about our experiences of ‘possible’ verbal & physical attacks. Pairing a feeling state with either a sensory memory or the narrative (the knowing of what happened) is the first proof the event was REAL.

Even when dissociation is a symptom of trauma (but not as mental illness), it can also be considered a skill. Not remembering horrible experiences has the advantage of allowing a person to see things from fresh perspectives, making room for the capacity to be surprised, & leaving mental space for learning new skills.

NEXT : Dissociation – Styles

3 ACoAs & DISSOCIATION – Emotions

PREVIOUS : Dissociation – Brain

SITE : Why Can’t I FEEL? Dissociation & Emotional Detachment in Response to Trauma

REMINDER : this topic is NOT about DID (Multiple Pers.)

Dissociation & EMOTIONS 
Dissociation is a way to avoid painful emotions, trying to protect a fragile ’Self’. It can occur in the process of being wounded in PMES ways, or later as a long-standing defense (mental habit). If it becomes an automatic response every time we experience intense emotions, is will be hard to undo.

Children can develop dissociation as a coping mechanism when parents do not teach their children emotional regulation skills, who las adults don’t know how to cope with ‘big’ feeling when they surface, & so are overwhelmed by them.

The benefits of dissociation may seem obvious – avoiding specific hurts or endless suffering – but the cost is enormous.  By suppressing unwanted feelings, we not only lose the capacity to experience painful ones, but also pleasant & passionate ones, reducing the joy of living. (see POSTs: ACoAs & Emotions)

ACoAs  – As adults, many ACoAs are cut off from our ‘true’ emotions, living in our head. This is so even for those who seem ‘very emotional & dramatic’. The first style comes mainly from being stuck in the Left Brain & the second mainly in the Right.

Ironically, in neither version are we actually experiencing the original pain – only the defensive ones that cover. The original trauma-emotions (loneliness, frustration, hurt, sadness, rage, terror…) are dissociated, cut off.
The most common defense against feeling them is self-hate, blaming ourselves for ‘causing’ our suffering.

This numbing started in childhood, but the pain of each abusive & neglectful moment doesn’t go away – it just accumulates & goes underground – over the months & years of growing up. In the present, this pile-up of emotions will inevitably show as constant anxiety, low-grade depression & anger-outbursts.

• One way this dissociation shows up is temporary muteness – we’re so ‘shocked’ by what someone does or says that we can’t say anything in the moment. This is called TONIC Immobility.⬆️
Later of course we think “I wish I had said….”.
This happens when our emotion-center (Limbic system) is overwhelmed, called Flooding, so the thinking brain is temporarily unavailable

• Another way is not being upset when someone manipulates, controls, disappoints or otherwise hurts us – if ever, but maybe until months or years later, when the upset finally dawns.

• It can also show up as a disparity between what we’re saying & the expression on our face – describing a traumatic event we experienced while smiling or laughing!

• The most common form of emotional dissociation is seen in the person who grew up in an emotionally & verbally abusive violent, home but will say AND is convinced they had an OK childhood & that their parents loved them. NOT.

The way we can know they’re in denial is by observing the many ways their life is dysfunctional, even if they’re intelligent & hard-working.

RECOVERY EXERCISE : To undo dissociation we need to become aware of / stay awake for AND accept all our emotions, but this isn’t fast or easy.
Until then – start by checking in with yourself at the end of each day by simply writing down every activity & event – up to 6 words pr item.
THEN list every emotion you might have had for each – as if you had felt something – even if you didn’t notice anything at the time.

EXP : Your ex called today about something, the boss was being a pain, the dog threw up, the car wouldn’t start…. & it didn’t bother you, or you ignored the knot in your stomach.
But by the end of the day, you’re probably feeling down or very cranky, but don’t know why.
You might have dissociated from your anger, frustration, grief, guilt, loneliness, sadness, maybe even relief….

GROWTH : Eventually, by paying attention (Mindfulness), you’ll start to associate events & emotions.
Along the way,
✿ learn how to comfort yourself when upset (& do it)
❖ be in charge of how you express emotions as they surface.
❣️Also give yourself credit for positive changes in behavior.
(Posts : “ACoAs – Accessing emotions” and “ACoAs – Accepting Emotions

SITE : Biology of Emotions

NEXT : Dissociation & Memory

2 ACoAs & DISSOCIATION – Brain

PREVIOUS : Dissociation – Intro

SITE : “Changing the Emotional Association of Memories

 

DISSOCIATION (Diss) is one of the most common defenses developed by ACoAs, starting in childhood. Because it’s so much a part of PMES survival, many of us are not even aware of how & when it manifests now. It doesn’t have to be dramatic (like losing time) but can occur in subtle ways throughout daily routines, where we’re not present for ourselves  – like not ‘noticing’ the emotional sting of an insult.

When children are mistreated, their overall development is  negatively affected. Chronic mis-attunement, neglect or other parental abuses can severely harm the baby’s brain, impairing the corpus callosum – the main connecting pathway between Right & Left hemispheres (We are “Wired to Connect”)(⤵️ More….)

Diss. involved temporary or long-term emotional numbness & mental detachment. In actual experience, the more severe form is similar to alcohol blackouts – no matter how brief – because we don’t remember what we said or did while being ‘out of it’, but without ingesting a drink or drug. (See next post re. MEMORY dissociation).

Even so, it IS chemical 
Aaron Kucyi et.al., neuroscientists at Northeastern, scanned people’s brains using fMRI. They found that a specialized area – the ‘default mode network‘ (DMN) connected to several other networks – has to do with controlling or maintaining a train of thought. (➡️ CHART info)

The DMN is active when a person is not focused on the outside world & the brain is at wakeful rest, such as during daydreaming or mind-wandering. This may explain that being distracted comes from the brain’s ability to go ‘down a mental rabbit hole’.
DMN can also be activated when thinking about oneself, about others, remembering the past or planning for the future – i.e. not being in the present.

The research also found a noticeable lack of connection between the DMN & attention networks – such as those that provide sensory input – making it harder to be aware of our immediate environment. All this research indicates that dis-connecting is actually a dynamic & fundamental function of our psychology.” (MORE….)

Disrupted DMN connectivity between brain regions for too long can change the way a person perceives events, as well as social & moral reasoning, increasing their susceptibility to depressive symptoms. Weakened network linkage was associated with anxiety & dysfunctional attachment patterns, found in people who have experienced long-term trauma, both in childhood & as adults.
SITE: “Brain connections predict how well you can pay attention

The NERVOUS SYSTEM : Under normal circumstances, 2 versions of the Nervous System function alternately to keeps us in balance –
🔺Sympathetic (SNS), from the(FPN) fronto-parietal network, is mainly geared to mobilization, preparing the body for action when stressed.
AND the opposite is —
🔻Parasympathetic (PSNS), using acetylcholine as its primary neurotransmitter, is in charge of the body’s “resting & digesting” functions, meant to act as a brake. It tells the body it’s okay to slow down, take deep breaths & relax.

A well-functioning PSNS provides the ability to recover from a distressing trigger by deactivating, to digest, play, rest, & again relate to others in an intimate way.

However, exposure to extreme threat, particularly early in life, combined with a lack of adequate caregiving – limits a person’s long-term ability to balance the responses of these 2 systems when facing future troubles.

Disassociation is mainly activated by the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) when we’re under great duress, either by a current event or from past trauma being triggered, also producing ‘freeze’ & temporary muteness)

The brain is flooded with reality-escaping endorphins, dulling the ‘thinking’ brain (neocortex). Changes in cerebral blood flow leads to a failure-to-engage, distorting perceptions (depersonalization & derealization) & impairing memory encoding-&-retrieval.

Constant stress also results in adrenal fatigue, causing a drop in cortisol levels, producing “endogenous opioids as a form of analgesia” (naturally formed numbing chemicals).
Such physical effects make us distracted & detached, missing all or parts of what’s going on around us.

Parasympathetic imbalance shows up as dissociation  :
▫️Physically – suppressed hormones, heart rate & blood pressure, also diarrhea, dizziness & sleep disturbance
▫️Emotionally – feeling confused, numb, slow, reactive
▫️Socially – feeling disconnected, rushed, & stuck in anger or sadness, leading to depression.

NEXT: Dissociation (Part 2)

ACoAs & DISSOCIATION – Intro

PREVIOUS : Corporate Culture – positive

SITE: A 3-Step Approach to Treating Trauma-Related Dissociation,

✿ “The Star Model for Treating Childhood Dissociation” (w/ good overview info)
✿ “Working with Dissociation

NOTE : This topic is NOT about ‘Dissociative Disorder” (‘split / multiple personality’)  in which the mind creates separate identities who are not aware of each other, to deal with extreme childhood trauma.

IMPORTANT : In this category, the person has only one identity. Also, this type of dissociation does not interfere with or distort ego states (wounded & healthy Child, rational Adult, Introject….) which are legitimate aspects of Personality. However one or more of these PARTS may be hidden from oneself in the dissociated state. 

DEF : NON-pathological (Normal) Dissociation is a defense mechanism used to cope with distressing or overwhelming emotions, usually but not always linked to a history of trauma.
A person can experience occasional or periodic disconnects of self-awareness, deliberately ‘zoning out’ to get thru a stressful situation (unpleasant medical procedure, deeply concentrating on a project….)
EXPs:
🔸Day dreaming – allowing the mind to wander where it  needs or wants to go
🔸Deliberately induced trance states & religious ecstasy
🔸Engaged in peak experiences, losing self-awareness & time, maybe with moments of de-realization (apart from surroundings) or de-personalization (from self)
🔸Immersed in recreation – a psychological vacation from life’s hardships
🔸Successfully engaged in activity of personal significance (prayer, sex, meditation).

Research indicates that 80-90% of the general population report occasional dissociative symptoms (only about 2% experience DID).

There are different types & in varying degrees, falling on a continuum :
▫️from feeling ‘jumpy’ to feeling nothing at all
▫️disconnecting from the words of the book you’re reading, to disconnecting from your body’s sensations
▫️from very short-lived mental breaks to more permanent withdrawal
▫️from forgetting where you left the keys, to forgetting years of your life.

MIND-WANDERING is a mild form of dissociation, considered a stable personality trait, as a transient mental state, in 3 types:
❖ Positive constructive imagining (how vivid your thoughts are)
▪️Guilty fear of failure (how many of those thoughts are guilt- or fear-based
▪︎ Poor attentional control (how deep you go into alternate thoughts).

In general it’s when our mind doesn’t stay on a single topic for very long, especially when involved in a demanding activity we know very well (like driving…. an EXP of mental Decoupling). Being internally preoccupied reduces cortical processing of the external environment, so we tend not to notice or remember what happened around us.
Task-unrelated (meaningless) mind-wandering is common in depressed people, or when intoxicated. (MORE….)

EXPMind-LESS reading is mental wandering into unrelated thoughts & feelings while the eyes continue to scan the words without paying attention to their meaning. Decoupling reduces absorbing information from our senses, breaking down the connection between reader & text.

BOOK : “The Wandering Mind: Understanding Dissociation from Daydreams to Disorders”

DETACHMENT, a Sub-type of PTSD is a more intense non-pathological form of dissociation : an altered state of awareness with a separation from some everyday experience, in which the medial prefrontal cortex interferes with (shuts down) the normal working of the limbic system in its processing of emotion.
(➡️Chart)

It shows up as one or more disturbances of a person’s :
• emotional experience (numbed, spaced out)
• a sense of self (depersonalization – feeling unreal, like in a dream)
• physical perception (outside observer of one’s body)
• sense of the world (flat, lifeless & “strange”).

NOTE : Dissociation (non-responsiveness) is usually associated with past trauma, with a desire to escape painful emotions. However, temporary detachment-dissociation can also have more immediate causes, not necessarily trauma-based, such as :
✫ daily stress – current, momentary, accumulated 
impaired sleep patterns – deprivation significantly increases dissociative symptoms
rumination – the repetitive focus on past distressing events or worry about the future, with pessimism, negative inner speech, depression, anxiety & sadness.
Researchers found that thinking about the past or future both contributed to negative mental states, keeping our attention on the present decreased dissociative episodes.

↗️ vm PFC = ventromedial prefrontal cortex
▪︎ BLA = baso-lateral amygdala  ▪︎ PAG = periaqueductal gray
▪︎ CMA = bilateral centro-medial amygdala

NEXT : Dissociation – Brain

POWER – Corporate Cultures – POSITIVE Qualities


PREVIOUS
: Negative Corporate Cultures #2

SITE : “How a Positive Work Culture Improves Customer Satisfaction

NOTE: POWER topic will resume on 8/29/22

POSITIVE Characteristics
Defining what you want your company’s culture to be is the 1st step toward building a workplace you’ll love. The following are component parts of the best corporate cultures. No company has them all, & not all apply to your needs – but it gives you an idea of what to look for.

🪴Autonomous
Since most people resent being micromanaged, workers find autonomy an attractive quality. EXP: Netflix encourages independent decision-making by employees, fostering freedom & empowerment at work

🪴Casual / Relaxed
Employees in the 2020s (especially millennials & Gen Z-ers) expect the workplace to be relaxed, with a casual vibe & dress code. A relaxed work environment provides freedom to work in ways they’re most comfortable & productive

🪴Challenging / Curious
Organizations need to explore new processes, progressive ways of thinking, & innovative approaches to problem-solving. So employees who want to learn, grow & evolve will welcome being pushed & challenged in the workplace

🪴Connected / Collaborative
Employees in a company with a connected culture are encouraged to feel accepted & valued. Sharing common goals, free to express ideas quickly & work together easily provides a sense of belonging.
Greenhouse celebrates group dynamics, strongly emphasizing the sharing of concepts & effort, to promote the birth of great ideas

🪴Empathetic / Engaged
Both ideas & emotions are valued & acknowledged – by active listening, open communication, & providing support in difficult situations. Employees are highly invested & inspired to do their best work for the company, so are more likely to stick around. Recruiterbox assesses candidates during interviews to determine which are the most empathetic

🪴Flexible
The workplace has become very different. Fewer employees ‘go to the office’, as working mainly from home has become the new norm, which includes flexible hours. As a fully remote company, HubSpot  consistently emphasizes the importance of work-life fit

🪴Fun / Happy
Who says work can’t be fun? It’s no longer enough for employees to just produce. They also want to enjoy what they do. Companies that create opportunities for fun on a regular basis are more likely to engage & retain employees.  Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh emphasizes employee happiness & have a work-life balance within the organization.

🪴Innovative / Nimble / Progressive
“Nimble” companies are agile & adaptable, constantly willingness to course-correct & rethink strategies, processes & approaches – to keep growing & thriving. High-growth startups often have more progressive work environments. Marriott focusing on shaping the ‘future of travel’ through technology, continuing to upgrade & modernize

🪴Inclusive / Diversity
Staff diversity & inclusion is a hot topic in HR & recruitment, especially where it has become a requirement by law. Diversity across all categories — including gender, religion, age, race, ethnicity & culture — are critical to establishing positive work environments. Without these, businesses risk losing important innovations, ideas and perspectives.

🪴Rewarding / Nurturing
Managers acknowledge employees when they go above & beyond expectations (a shout-out, gift card, small party, write-up…) & are also encouraged to celebrate each other with peer-to-peer recognition activities. The right environment energizes & motivates employees to achieve company goals

🪴Respectful
Employees are encouraged to express opinions & ideas without interruption, & coworkers are expected to listen courteously.

🪴Transparent / Trusting
This about implementing a formal, mature communication program within the company in order to enhance trust – which is a vital component in building strong working one-to-one relationships & teams.
Messaging company news to the workforce should be structured, planned & honest at all times.  Employees & customers alike greatly value transparency in the workplace, by providing key information & decisions.

🪴Welcoming
In companies with a welcoming culture, employees are friendly, more likely to build internal employee networks, & plan team events to spend time with coworkers outside the office. The onboarding process will be the first impression employees have of a company, with the potential for setting them up for success.

NEXT: ACoAs – DISSOCIATION

POWER – Corporate Cultures – PROBLEMS (#2)

PREVIOUS : Corporate Cultures – PROBLEMS (#1)

SITE : “Is a toxic workplace warping your sense of what’s normal?”

Toxic work cultures express a disregard for employees, who are treated as objects that fulfill the company’s needs, not as people who have their own lives & families. It prevents employees from thriving. And while it may not kill them literally, it will negatively effect physical health (depression, burn-out, headaches….), as well as workplace ‘illnesses’ (lower productivity, infighting, complaining….), eventually driving them to look for a job elsewhere.

EMPLOYEE PROBLEMS
1. Candidates Judged for Culture Fit
❗️ Hiring for culture-fit is an outdated recruitment strategy that will cost you top talent. When looking foe carbon copies of your current employees, your culture will remain stagnant or start to decline. Like-minded individuals are great at agreeing, but tend to butt heads when it comes to pushing the envelope.

2.There’s a Culture of Unfriendly Competition
❗️ Having competition as the focal point of your culture will breed animosity between employees. It can also lead to a negative culture founded on competition and animosity between employees.

3.Employees NOT Acknowledged & Rewarded
❗️ Only occasionally rewarding a few individuals (like a top sales rep of each quarter) will make the majority of the workforce feel undervalued & under-appreciated – doing your culture a disservice. It can also lead to competition & animosity between employees.

4.Employees Are Often Tardy or Absent
❗️ Excessive lateness &/or high rates of absenteeism are clear signs of a poor company culture. Employee’s tardiness indicates either that they’re lazy or disengaged. If they’re often out-of-office (remote or flex-schedule employees being the exception) they’re likely disinterested & not passionate about their work.

5.People Work Through Lunch
❗️ If employees often work through lunch, it’s either because they feel they don’t have time to stop working, or believe management doesn’t condone taking breaks. Not only is it a surefire way to turn employees away, but also poor business logic — 81% of employees who regularly break for lunch are active members of their organization. Expecting employees to perform well while working eight hours nonstop is unrealistic & ridiculous. Besides, it signals that leadership only values their work output, not their contribution to the culture or personal commitment to the organization.

6. People Work Late or on Weekends
❗️ If the work day ends at 5:00 p.m. but the majority of your team regularly stays well past, that should be cause for concern. This indicates that your staff are either juggling too many responsibilities, or managers have unrealistic expectations for their direct reports. Quotas help ensure your growth plan stays on track, but impractical objectives will lead to employee burnout.

7. Office Gossip Runs Rampant
❗️ It wasn’t cool in middle school, & certainly isn’t appropriate in the office. Gossip leads to unwanted cliques that divide the workforce, turning employees against each other, which creates a culture of distrust.

8. Teams Are Siloed
❗️ Lack of communication is a definite indicator of a toxic culture. Across teams or between managers & direct reports, the way information does or does not flow can impact a company’s culture as well as its bottom line. When employees aren’t communicating properly, it can hurt productivity, stifle ideas, & create a less desirable working environment.

9.Teams See High Turnover
❗️ High turnover is almost always a guaranteed sign of a toxic company culture. Not only will it drive employees away, it will also deter job seekers from taking your organization seriously. More than one-third of U.S. employees say they would turn down the perfect job if they thought the culture wasn’t a good fit for them. If you’re saying goodbye to employees left & right, they’re probably looking for a less toxic work environment.

ALSO – The Company Doesn’t Give Back to the Community
❗️Problem: If the company doesn’t have a matching program for charitable donations, doesn’t offer a yearly day of service for volunteer work, never issues calls for donations in the wake of a devastating hurricane or other disaster….  you’re sending the message that as a company, you just don’t care about the outside world.

NEXT :

POWER – Corporate Cultures – PROBLEMS (#1)

PREVIOUS : Corp. Cultures – #2

SITE: Culture: Your Environment for People at Work

COMPANY CULTURE
‘‘Company Culture’’ refers to a firm’s overall characteristics & shared ideals, with sub-cultures that are formed by rewards. It dictates the company mission, leadership style, ethics, goals & expectations. It therefore identifies how employees connect with each another, the values they hold & the decisions they make.

People shape their culture in the environment that surrounds them at work all the time. Like personality, it’s made up of the beliefs, underlying assumptions, interests, experiences, upbringing, & habits that form employees’ daily rituals & routines. It’s difficult to change but can be modified. When needed, some strategies for upgrading it are: Improving communication, Feedback, & Recognition of work well done.

HOWEVER, Toxic work cultures are institutional-centric. Policies & procedures are designed with the company in mind, not its workforce – including outdated work policies. When employees feel their company is not doing a good job in various areas, a crisis may be inevitable – people will become disengaged, passive-aggressive, & let work quality slip.

PROBLEM AREAS
✒︎ High-pressure environment – When leadership is not vigilant about managing its environment, resulting profits & growth come at the expense of values & ethics.

✒︎ Inadequate investment in People – When management doesn’t live up to its end of the hiring agreement (compensation, career development & benefits in exchange for work) they’re less inclined to live up to theirs

✒︎ Lack of accountability – When the company consistently does not hold specific people responsible for misconduct. So when other employees see that consequences are handed out unevenly or are non-existent, they may not bother reporting poor behavior (why bother?), & use it as a reason to be less careful about their own actions.

✒︎ Lack of diversity, equity & inclusion – In spite of the #MeToo movement, certain industries are known for their culture being non-inclusive & prejudicial.

✒︎ Poor behavior at the top – When company values don’t exist, aren’t known, or aren’t enabled or enforced by systems & processes. OR When executives don’t act in line with with company values. Because of intense pressure to deliver results & the rewarded on what they achieve, leadership doesn’t care how they get there.

Start by ASKING:
☛ How big is the organization?
☛ How intense is the inertia?
☛ Who are the influencers?
☛ What can I do about it?
☛ Should I stay or leave?

LEADERSHIP PROBLEMS
1. An Absence of Core Values
❗️A very basic sign of a bad company culture is a lack of company core values. They are the driving force behind an organization — without them the culture is likely to lumber along without any sense of direction. Unwanted sub-cultures will then form & undermine business success.

 2. No DEI Policy
❗️Not promoting employee diversity smacks of corporate ignorance, contributing to a toxic culture. It telegraphs to employees that management Just. Doesn’t. Care.
EXP: an active, effective way to recruit, hire & retain women, include gender-fluid people & people of color.

3. Managers Don’t Follow Core Values
❗️Employees look to managers for direction. If senior & middle management aren’t following core values, employees won’t either. Even worse, they’ll come to distrust leadership for exempting managers from office rules. Authority will be discredited, with a clear divide will form between leadership & staff.

 4. Managers Don’t Promote From Within
❗️If all new hires are from outside the company, especially at a management & leadership level, you’re sending the message that current employees either don’t matter or aren’t good enough to be promoted. Either reason contributes to a toxic culture that stymies growth.

5. Managers Publicly Criticize Employees
❗️Employees make mistakes, sometimes bad ones. A toxic work culture makes a big deal out of these errors by calling out employees by name & mistake, in a public forum.

6. No Good Reviews of the Company Culture
❗️ If employees are frustrated with the management style, cut-throat competition between peers or discouragingly high turnover rate – as posted on anonymous review-platforms – job seekers will be the first to know, & your company will earn a negative reputation.

NEXT : Negative cultures #2

POWER – Corporate Cultures – TYPES (#2)


PREVIOUS : Culture TYPES #1

SITE : Understanding & Developing Organizational Culture”

CULTURE TYPES (cont)

4. HIERARCHY or Control
Traditional organizations, especially large ones, tend to be hierarchical. Management is made up of various levels & there’s a clear difference between employees & leaders. Emphasis is on planning & evaluation in all business activities. Decision-making comes from the top, a careful process with great attention paid to details & at what worked before – to minimize risk. These characteristics make a hierarchy culture ideal for industries where safety or security is of utmost importance.

Employees are comforted by the clarity which a control culture provides. To eventually receive a promotion all they need to do is obey the rules, follow procedures, & meet their responsibilities. And managers like being in charge because the workforce is efficient & productive.
The downside to this reliability is that these companies are less dynamic other cultures, which makes Hierarchy unsuitable for industries where innovation is paramount.

5. MARKET or Compete
The Market culture has a very competitive climate, who’s whole aim is to dominate their field. Leadership measures success by market share & the return on investment, rather than the achievements of any individual. All decisions are based on what will bring the
business closer to meeting these 2 goals.

It’s one of the most intentional types, unlikely to arise by accident, since it requires everyone’s commitment to ensure consistent quality in products & services. It’s dynamic – if adapting will likely help the company reach its targets, changes will take place immediately, because it’s less risk-averse.

Since Market culture companies tend to attract competitive employees, it’s common for workers to be high performers, striving to outshine coworkers. It also helps that leadership encourage employees to push for management positions, and are incentivized to work hard with large bonuses & other monetary rewards. However, some people feel that basing their success purely on money is unfulfilling, & find that work may become less meaningful over time.

6. PURPOSE Culture
In a purpose culture, employees strive to achieve a goal for the greater good. This could relate to human sustainability, the environment, or human rights. Employees are driven by a higher cause than personal accomplishments, all sharing similar values – wanting to make a difference in the world.
It’s commonly seen in non-profits, but some for-profit companies with deep values may also fit this category. Like in the Clan culture, this style may pose the problem of groupthink, which can stifle innovation.

7. ROLE-BASED
In this culture, Power derives from a person’s place or role within a highly structured organization. It attempts to reduce the amount of confusion & redundancies by giving each worker a specific set of roles & tasks for which they’re responsible. Little importance is on whether someone is a manager or subordinate, so employees lead projects based on expertise rather than position.

To thrive in a role-based culture, a finely-honed skill set is required. Each employee is the only person able to do their specific job, & may even be among the best in their field. On the one hand, this rigid system of work distribution doesn’t work well in small companies with few employees, who regularly have to take on a variety of duties. On the other, this culture appeals to specialists because it provides high wages & emphasizes excellence. However, it’s hard to get into such companies, as the person needs years of experience & demonstrable skills, rather than just ‘paper’ qualifications.

8. STRONG LEADERSHIP
A strong leadership culture emphasizes the importance of solid management & a commitment to helping employees progress. In such companies, there are plenty of opportunities for training & coaching from many mentors. Managers often take the initiative to invest in subordinates they feel have the greatest potential, putting them on the fast track for a higher position in the company.
There’s no need for many layers of hierarchy to function well – what matters is that workers have the freedom to develop their leadership skills & so progress in their careers.

9. TASK-ORIENTED
In some ways, task-oriented culture is the opposite of Role-based, since every day is completely different. Team members hold meetings to figure out what needs doing, then assign tasks according to the skills of each employee, rather than job title. The one similarity is that hierarchy is of little (if any) importance. A common trademark is the use of small, collaborative teams to tackle inbound issues. Much of the day to day operation consists in getting in conference rooms and other collaborative spaces and hammering out team-specific strategies.

This culture is particularly common in startups, where a few staff members need to take on a variety of responsibilities. To be hired by such a company, a person needs to prove they have a good knowledge of their whole industry, & be task-flexible. Employees must have the ability to work well with each other, so potential hires are interviewed by most or all members of their team to make sure they’ll be a good fit

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POWER – Corporate Cultures – TYPES (#1)

PREVIOUS : Positive Biz Politics

SITE : “Authenticity & coherence, Key to a solid corporate culture

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CORPORATE CULTURES
Work cultures can stagnate or improve, morph or evolve – & so are different from a company’s core values, which largely remain the same over time.
Culture is based on a set of principles governing every aspect of an organization’s functioning, & should act as a beacon to attract talent & customers who share the same fundamental outlook & values.
It impacts everything from interpersonal relationships to partnerships to marketing to customer service.

While we can’t see or touch Culture, it’s strongly present in the artifacts, activities, & metrics of the company. From hiring practices to how people work, make decisions, resolve differences of opinions, & navigate change, the culture defines unwritten but very real rules of behavior.

KEY COMPONENTS
The Mission Statement, Vision & Values, a common Language (acronyms, catchphrases), Decision-making style, having the ‘Right’ leadership & staff .

BEST PRACTICES for Management
⛲️ Be transparent. Be flexible
⛲️ Set clear department Goals. Promote Organization’s goals
⛲️ Promote Diversity & Inclusivity.  Allow for HUMOR
⛲️ Prioritize Respect. Establish strict zero-tolerance
⛲️ Employee Reward Program. Plan social outings
⛲️ Accept & utilize employee Feedback (MORE ….)

POSITIVE Characteristics
🪧 Caring : support for employees during pandemic
🪧 Community : stick together through thick & thin
🪧 Fairness : rating equals compensation & recognition
🪧 Innovation : a safe environment to express ideas
🪧 Trust : in employees to work remote & flexible hours
🪧 Trustworthy management : generates workplace satisfaction, employee retention, motivation to give extra effort (MORE….)

SUCCESSFUL Work Cultures can include :
🎗 All stars = the hiring process is highly selective
🎗 Customer Service = “Customer is always right”
🎗 Employee empowerment = everyone feels valued
🎗 Innovation = staying on the cutting edge
🎗 Mission -Driven = nonprofits, grassroots startups
🎗 Power-Driven = competition, survival of the fittest
🎗 Role-Playing = specialists are valued above all
🎗 Sales = product knowledge by all staff member
🎗 Strong Leadership = coach, Mentor, Train
🎗 Task-oriented = small, collaborative teams (MORE….)

9 TYPES – Modified FROM article by Laura Holton, business writer
1. ADHOCRACY or Creative
Derived from “ad hoc,” leaders in this type of company are highly flexible (AGILE) , pushing dynamic transformations. They hire the most innovative, entrepreneurial-minded individuals, daring risk-takers who embody the true traits of a visionary. Everyone is expected to constantly be experimenting with new ideas. Such a culture is useful in industries where taking risks can have huge payoffs, such as in tech or disruptive industries.

Adhocracy cultures emphasize company growth & bringing new products or services to the market – fast. Businesses, as well as the offerings themselves, are always changing. Employees are forward thinking & willing to ‘fail’. Following the rules & perfection are less important than learning from mistakes & adapting.

Employees know that expectations run very high in their fast-paced, high-growth company, but stay motivated by knowing the products or services they’re developing have the potential to change the market & the world.

Creative culture have an opportunity to see great profit margins, but there’s also the chance their products (even the entire enterprise) will fail completely. Another disadvantage is that the atmosphere can become highly competitive. Whereas some workers enjoy being challenged, others find the pressure too stressful.

2. CLAN or Collaborative
A company with a clan or collaborative culture feels like a family. All the employees know each other & consider coworkers their friends. They also tend to have many interests in common, sharing a similar worldview. Since employees tend to stay with the organization for a long time, workplace traditions crop up.

Clan cultures tend to have a horizontal structure, without many layers of management. Everyone is valued equally, given the chance to participate, with an opportunity to provide feedback. Teamwork is more common than individual projects & workers with more experience (not just management) mentor new ones to help them progress so they can reach their full potential.

Customers are also loyal & partnerships last. Employees enjoy working in a clan culture, which leads to great customer service & high productivity.

However, this kind of climate is better suited to small rather than midsize to large businesses. As companies expand, it’s much harder to keep such a close-knit feel, & even trying can cause confusion. Other problems include poor growth due to difficulty thinking outside the box & putting employees’ needs above the business.

3. CUSTOMER-FIRST 
A customer-first culture is another type where personal accomplishments are less important than a higher goal – in this case, of satisfying the customer. In this environment it’s likely that few employees ever communicate directly with users of their product or service. What matters is that everyone’s goal is to provide customers with the best service in the industry.

Employees in this culture are highly focused on how customers will interact with their products, so continually monitor what users say on social media & in reviews. They often have 24/7 support phone numbers, & respond to messages immediately. Surveys asking clients what the company could be doing better are also common.

NEXT : Culture TYPES #2

POSITIVE Business Politics (Part 3)

 PREVIOUS:
Causes of Organizational Politics (#1)

 

 

 


INTRO:
ETHICS (a branch of philosophy 
)
— distinguishes between right & wrong actions
— establishes the rules & standards that govern the moral behavior of individuals & groups
— involves honest thought to & admission of underlying motives of actions
— identifies potential harm & agreement with established values & rules

MORALS are agreed upon judgments & rules of good conduct in society, identifying permissible / acceptable behavior which express basic values. Business ethics deals with the creation & application of moral standards in the business environment.

Values are professed statements of one’s beliefs, Ethics is delivering on one’s professed values, & morals are actions of good conduct as judged by the society that enhance the welfare of all human beings.

CULTIVATING MORAL POWER – for executives / managers….. (& everyone)
Influencing others without corrupting our own values lies in self-awareness. Those who strive for it will regularly talk to friends or a trusted counselor, take time for journaling, quiet reflection & prayer, reading ‘growth’ literature…..  looking  deeper into their own motivations which drive their actions. 

Ethical Awareness Exercises
🛎 Use these 3 statements as a baseline / mental checklist – to help you make ethical choices by evaluating your motivations when making work decisions
ASK:
1.  At work I desire… (choose all that apply)
— advancement, increased compensation
— collaboration, companionship, friendship 
— influence, control, stability, independence
— respect, public recognition, status …. (add)

2. At work I fear… (choose all that apply) 
— the ambitions of others, being shown up, competition
— being the last to know important news, being deceived
— being seen as incompetent, not being liked, not being respected
— losing my job, instability, the power of others, lack of control
— making a mistake, getting caught, asking for help  (add)

3. My most important values at work are…
Honesty, Integrity, Creativity
Success,  Respect, Loyalty
Trust, Kindness, Helpfulness…  (add) 

From each the above 3 categories, choose your top 2 interests, & write about how they show up in your work life
1 & 2 describe ways you may unconsciously influence others, & how others may be influencing you, & the 3rd are core working values.
EXP – by category:
1. At work I desire respect & stability ….
2. At work I fear losing my job & getting caught making a mistake ….
3. My most important values at work are honesty and respect…..

📕 EXERCISE TO help you recognize when you’re not acting in synch with your core work values. It also helps identify other / better ways to approach situations that trigger fears & impulses.

🔎 List situations where / how / when your most common fears & desires (# 1 & 2) affected your behavior & interactions. Identify what was motivating them (negative thoughts / unfulfilled needs, projections…),
then compare them to your core values (#3). What were the positive and/or negative outcome of each action / event?
EXP:
Situation: I made a minor mistake on a team report, but convinced myself & my boss it was the fault of a junior team member.
Fear: making mistakes
Desire: respect
Negative impetus: dishonesty & disrespect

Comparison: My fear of making mistakes & looking bad pushed me to go against my core working values & instead – I used my senior status to blame someone else for my mistake.
Outcome: While I didn’t have to admit to my boss that I’d made a mistake, I damaged the possibility of having a positive relationship with the junior coworker, & provided him / her with an example of unethical behavior in senior employees.

• ALTERNATIVE : Imagine a way you could have dealt with the situation without violating your core working values. What might have been the outcome?

EXP: I could have admitted my mistake directly, & given the junior team member public credit for his / her accurate work.

Outcome: I would have built personal credibility & trust through integrity.Also, I would have set a positive example for the junior team member, possibly increasing his / her loyalty, & creating the opportunity to provide mentorship.

REMINDER : Keep in mind that everyone acts unconsciously sometimes. Ethical growth is only possible when we consistently can take an “fearless”, non-judgmental  look at our behavior, to gradually learn from our mistakes.

NEXT: Corp. Culture Types #1