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Run a WOW Campaign

Run a WOW Campaign

How do you introduce new ideas in your organization, and secure buy-in? How can you introduce positive, catalytic change, and get everyone excited and inspired?

It always starts with clarity first and foremost, in that you explain the idea or change you are introducing succinctly. You answer those W’s — What is it, Why are we doing it, Who is the “We” involved, Where and When is it going to happen. Finally, you tackle the big H; how?

However clarity is not always enough. Sometimes we have an idea or change concept which quite frankly, is not that exciting. If we want it to kick in, and truly get us the buy-in we are hoping for, we need to inspire. We need a WOW Campaign. Can you design and run one?

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Here a few things to think about in designing and running a campaign:

—Get goofy, be fearless, and take some chances. Risk-taking stimulates energy and sharpens our focus; our awareness of land mines is heightened when we are firing on all cylinders. WOW Campaigns are not for the meek and timid.

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—Assault the senses. It is always very effective to choose a strong visual image which is associated with your idea or change concept. When it is seen, it instantly conveys a strong and clear message. Consider the other senses of hearing, touch, taste, and scent, and decide if there are complimentary connections which will reinforce the visual message: perhaps you will choose a song, or slogan which will attach sound to your image. Use these triggers as consistently and pervasively as you can.

—Make it personal for people. You have to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” for everyone you expect to support your initiative. If they invest their time and energy, what will be their return? You cannot assume they will perceive the same benefits that you do.

—Create buzz. Think about how you can get people talking. Can you tell a compelling story, which others delight in repeating? Start conversations which create a sense of sweet anticipation or wild speculation about “what if…?”

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—Don’t leave your buzz to chance: Recruit cheerleaders and champions, and make it very rewarding to be one. You want to be sure that those who are the most vocal about your idea or change concept are not the Doubting Thomas’s and Gloomy Gus’s of the world. If there’s going to be talk, you want positive talk and good buzz. You want optimism and enthusiasm.

—Open doors for others to get involved so it is about “We,” “Us,” and “Our.” Invite as much ownership as possible by asking for help: People love to feel needed and valued, and they love the feeling that they are “in the know” and the insiders driving a big idea. When it succeeds, they want to be able to say, “We did it.”

—Repeat, repeat, repeat. We are living in a world where we are bombarded with a slew of competing messages each day, all vying for our precious attention, and we only have so much attention to give. The age-old counsel of “tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em, then tell ‘em, and then tell ‘em what you just told ‘em” is still very sage advice.

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—Bring joy, make it fun and get people to laugh. Play! Joy, fun and laughter open us up. When we are engaged in play and having fun we are more open-minded and willing to do more with others. With change in particular, fun creates an excitement which replaces anxiety and insecurity.

—Catch people doing it right, and be generous in giving credit where credit is due. Recognize that your idea or change concept takes consistency and unity to be inculcated in your organizational culture, and that will involve a lot of people. Acknowledge any hurdles which have been overcome, recognize and reward, celebrate achievements loudly and publicly, and say thank you — a lot.

Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is also the founder and head coach of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership.

Rosa’s Previous Thursday Column was: The Most Underutilized Tool for Effective Communication.

More by this author

Rosa Say

Rosa is an author and blogger who dedicates to helping people thrive in the work and live with purpose.

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Published on November 12, 2020

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

5 Signs You Work in a Toxic Environment (And What To Do)

What’s the most draining, miserable job you’ve ever had? Maybe you had a supervisor with unrealistic demands about your work output and schedule. Or perhaps, you worked under a bullying boss who frequently lost his temper with you and your colleagues, creating a toxic work environment.

Chances are, though, your terrible job experience was more all-encompassing than a negative experience with just one person. That’s because, in general, toxicity at work breeds an entire culture. Research shows abusive behavior by leaders can and often quickly spread through an entire organization.[1]

Unfortunately, working in a toxic environment doesn’t just make it miserable to show up to the office (or a Zoom meeting). This type of culture can have lasting negative effects, taking a toll on mental and physical health and even affecting workers’ personal lives and relationships.[2]

While it’s often all-encompassing, toxic culture isn’t always as blatant or clear-cut as abuse. Some of the evidence is more subtle—but it still warrants concern and action.

Have a feeling that your workplace is a toxic environment? Here are 5 surefire signs to look for.

1. People Often Say (or Imply) “That’s Not My Job”

When I first launched my company, I had a very small team. And back then, we all wore a lot of hats, simply because we had to. My colleagues and I worked tirelessly together to build, troubleshoot, and market our product, and nobody complained (at least most of the time).

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Because we were all in it together, with the same shared vision in mind, cooperation mattered so much more than job titles. Unfortunately, it’s not always that way.

In some workplaces, people adhere to their job descriptions to a fault:

  • Need help with an accounting problem? Sorry, that’s not my job.
  • Oh, you spilled your coffee in the break room? Too bad, I’m working.
  • Can’t figure out the new software? Ask IT.

While everyone has their own skillset—and time is often at a premium—cooperation is important in any workplace. An “it’s not my job” attitude is a sign of a toxic environment because it’s inherently selfish. It implies “I only care about me and what I have to get done” and that people aren’t concerned about the collective good or overall vision.[3] That type of perspective is not only bound to drain individual relationships; it also drains overall morale and productivity.

2. There’s a Lack of Diversity

Diversity is a vital part of a healthy work environment. We need the opinions and ideas of people who don’t see the world like us to move ahead. So, when leaders don’t prioritize diversity—or worse, they actively avoid it—I’m always suspicious about their character and values.

Limiting your workforce to one type of person is bound to prevent organizations from growing healthily. But even if your work environment is diverse in general, the management might prevent diverse individuals from rising to leadership positions, which only misses the point of having a diverse work environment in the first place.

Look around you. Who’s in leadership at your company? Who gets promotions and rewards most often? If the same type of people gets ahead while other individuals consistently get left behind, you might be working in a toxic environment.

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However it manifests in your workplace, keep in mind that a lack of diversity is a tell-tale sign that “bias is rampant and the wrong things are valued.”[4]

3. Feedback Isn’t Allowed

Just as individual growth hinges on being open to criticism, an organization’s well-being depends on workers’ ability to air their concerns and ideas. If management actively stifles feedback from employees, you’re probably working in a toxic environment.

But that definitely doesn’t mean nobody will air their feelings. One of the telltale signs of toxic leadership is when employees vent on the sidelines, out of management’s earshot. When I worked in a toxic environment, coworkers would often complain about higher-ups and company policies during work in private chats or after work hours.

It’s normal to get frustrated at work. That’s just a part of having a job. What isn’t normal is when dissent isn’t a part of or discouraged in the workplace. A workplace culture that suppresses constructive feedback will not be successful in the long run. It’s a sign that leadership isn’t open to new ideas, and that they’re more concerned about their own well-being than the health of the organization as a whole.

4. Quantifiable Measures Take Priority

Sales numbers, timelines, bottom lines—these metrics are, of course, important signs of how things are going in any business. But great leaders know that true success isn’t always measurable or quantifiable. More meaningful factors like workplace satisfaction, teamwork, and personal growth all contribute to and sustain these metrics.

Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, and they shouldn’t be the only concern. Measure-taking should always take a backseat to meaning-making—working together to contribute to a vision that improves people’s lives. If your workplace zones in on quantifiable measures of success, it’s probably not prioritizing what truly matters. And it’s probably also instilling a fear of failure among employees, which paralyzes employees instead of motivating them.

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5. The Policies and Rules Are Inconsistent

Every organization has its own set of unique policies and procedures. But often, unhealthy workplaces have inconsistent, unspoken “rules” that apply differently to different people. When one person gets in trouble for the same type of behavior that promotes another person, workers will feel like management plays favorites—which isn’t just unethical but also a quick way to drain morale and fuel tension in the office.[5] It only shows how incompetent the leadership is and indicates a toxic workplace.

For example, maybe there’s no “set” rule about work hours, but your manager expects certain people or departments to show up at 8 am while other individuals tend to roll in at 9 or 10 am with no real consequences. If that’s the case, then it’s likely that your organization’s leadership is more concerned with controlling people and exerting power rather than the overall good of their employees.

How to Deal With a Toxic Work Environment

The first thing to know if you’re stuck in a toxic work environment is that you’re not stuck. While it’s ultimately the company’s responsibility to make positive changes that prevent harmful actions to employees, you also have an opportunity to speak up about your concerns—or, if necessary, depart the role altogether.

If you suspect that you’re working in a toxic environment, think about how you can advocate for yourself. Start by raising your grievances about the culture in an appropriate setting, like a scheduled, one-on-one meeting with your supervisor.

Can’t imagine sitting down with your supervisor to air those problems on your own? Form some solidarity with like-minded colleagues. Approaching management might feel less overwhelming when you have a “team” who shares your views.

It doesn’t have to be an overtly confrontational discussion. Do your best to frame your concerns in a positive way by sharing with your supervisor that you want to be more productive at work, but certain problems sometimes get in the way.

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Final Thoughts

If your supervisor truly cares about the well-being of the organization, they will take your concerns seriously and actively take part in changing the toxic work environment into something more conducive to productivity.

If not, then it might be time to consider the cost of the job on your well-being and personal life. Is it worth staying just for your resume’s sake? Or could you consider a “bridge” job that allows you to exhale for a bit, even if it doesn’t “move you ahead” the way you planned?

It might not be the ideal situation, but your mental health and well-being are too important to ignore. And when you have the opportunity to refuel, you’ll be a far more valuable asset at whatever amazing job you land next.

More Tips on Dealing With a Toxic Work Environment

Featured photo credit: Campaign Creators via unsplash.com

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