When you understand what is happening at the lowest levels of an organization you can gain an appreciation for the roots of its culture. How people behave, how they speak to one another or interact with each other moment to moment can give you deep insight into how and why things work they way they do.
Start paying attention to what time people come into work and when people leave. Do people come in early and stay late? Do people eat lunch at their desk or do they go out? Do they bring lunch from home, order takeout, or go to a restaurant? Are employees working with their head down, or do they walk around and socialize? Meetings—are they attended by people from various levels of the company or are they closed to others? Are people generally open with what they are working on or do they keep to themselves? Or is it hard to find information about what decisions are being made?
These examples are easy and we haven’t yet addressed how people collaborate or solve problems for their clients.
In aggregate, behaviors affect the look and feel of an organization and influence the way things get done. New employees that are coming into this environment either conform or do their own thing. They blend in or they stick out. People will adopt the behaviors of the people around them, at the risk of not fitting in, or chart their own path.
When you understand how people are behaving, then you have the ability to shape the outcomes down the road. If you know that people are going to react a certain way in response to some action, then it is easier to figure out how to insert yourself into their “movie” to effect change.
A single person can change an organization by changing the patterns of behavior of the people.