The last two posts have looked at some of the negative and positive attributes that we bring to the workplace. When I made the second list, I did so without consulting the first. I decided to see how well the positive attributes can serve to counterbalance (and defeat) the negatives-

Loyalty →  Living in the past

Even though there is a tendency to rehash old gripes, there is more than enough loyalty to keep us around despite lingering grudges.

Dedication → Keeping score

We may keep score and hold grudges, but our dedication to our jobs and service should make that a secondary concern.

Passion → Cynicism

Our passion for what we do and why we do it allows us to move forward despite any cynicism.

Commitment → Fear of failure

We are afraid to fail, but committed to succeeding.

Compassion → Intolerance for mistakes or perceived incompetence

Even though there is often some rigidity and inflexibility in maintaining work processes and “doing things the right way,” in general, we are a compassionate bunch that cares about people’s needs.

Creativity → Skepticism

While there may often be doubt, our creative nature and curiosity should allow us to try new things.

Intelligence → My way or the highway thinking

We are smart enough to know that our way is not the only way.

Endurance → Planning for every contingency

We may over think and over plan, but we have the ability to stick with it even when the unexpected occurs.

Persistence → Expecting the worst

Even though we can be pessimistic, we persist when the worst happens.

Integrity → Holding  on to control

Trusting in our coworkers’ honesty and ethics should allow us to relinquish control and invite collaboration.

As I’ve written about previously, including in this post, my office has been working with a consultant on a culture change initiative. As part of this initiative, we developed a set of guiding principles to govern our conduct. I know there are many out there who view these kinds of initiatives with skepticism (!) and as a waste of money on management guru, schmuru–all talk, no action–when funds are desperately needed elsewhere. While it remains to be seen how effective this process will be for us in the long run, I can say without a doubt that I have learned a lot along the way and none of it was a waste. I fail to see how this exercise could do anything other than force critical thinking about the ways in which we interact with each other and how that affects our work environment, performance, and outlook. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to spend money.

I’m not going to post the guiding principles developed by our staff because they are not mine alone to share. We created them as a team and, so far, for our internal use only. There will probably come a time when we share them more widely. But for now, I have created my own list of guiding principles designed to downplay the negative characteristics outlined above and reinforce the positive-

We live in the present and look forward to the future

Every day is a clean slate

Failure is encouraged along the road to success

Trust is the foundation for success

We own our words and actions

We share information freely

We listen before we speak

There is always more than one way

Of course, these are only my opinions and thoughts. And since there is always more than one way, there are many other equally valid opinions and thoughts that probably contradict mine. I think the key is having a healthy respect for differences and allowing our differences to make us stronger rather than more divided. Being vulnerable doesn’t hurt, either.

I’m very tempted to insert another well metaphor here, but I think I will leave well enough alone.