In human groups culture is always at work. Whether it is a workplace organization, school, spiritual center, community, club, or family, there is a structure that guides behavior. The structure is based on choices made over time by various leaders in the group. It becomes "The way we do things." It feels like the way things are is, well, the way things are. This is true, except the way things are can be changed.

You have influence. In most organizations, when people see things they don't like or that don't make sense, they blame and complain. Complaining, by itself, does nothing to change things. In fact, blaming and complaining are another problem. The negativity caused by these two behaviors often exceeds the negativity of the issue complained about. So what do we do?

Identify the issue. Be very clear about the negative behaviors, practices, or processes you see. Analyze and determine the negative effects.
• In what way does it cause pain?
• Where does it hurt?
• How much does it hurt?
Once you have clarified the issue and its results, think about what you want instead. Envision a better future and list the benefits of your vision. Think about the steps for getting there.

The way things are depends on what is rewarded, what is ignored, and what is discouraged. If negative behaviors persist, it is because they are rewarded or ignored. Looking the other way is tacit approval. If people are defensive about their practices and behaviors, their defensiveness may be seen as unpleasant and therefore discouraging change. Whatever is happening, it is happening for a reason. Determine the reasons if you want change.

Once you are organized, there are several things you can do:
1. If the issue is behavioral, make sure your behavior is in alignment with what you want. You cannot get others to change inappropriate behaviors if you are doing it, too. For example, if you want others to communicate, make a consistent practice of communicating to them. Provide useful information they can use. Teach by your example. If you don't want something to continue, stop contributing to it.
2. If the behavior is causing you pain or inconvenience, speak directly to the person. Explain the behavior you have observed; the effects of it; and what you would like to see instead.
3. If the issue is a practice or a process, make an effective presentation both to decision makers and those who you'll need to buy in. Show the benefits of the change you desire. Sometimes getting the support of others before you present to your manager can be helpful.
4. Often people carry baggage in the form of stories from the past. Ask questions to determine if any of their stories are relevant. For example, stories about managers who are no longer there aren't relevant. It's time to forgive. Unforgiveness is painful, especially to the one holding on to the story. Help others to see and feel your vision.
5. Whether your change process is slow or quick, keep your spirits up. You are in charge of the mood and manner you bring to the group. Your uplifting manner will inspire others.

People change when they have a reason. Cultures change when a critical mass of people see the value in changing. If someone is not changing, there are two possible reasons:
• They don't have the knowledge or support to do it.
• They don't want to do it.

Group dynamics are powerful. Regardless of how logical your ideas are, don't underestimate the power of the structure. People adopt beliefs and tend to hold tightly to them. It often takes time to change the culture. It can be done through conscious effort. You have to identify clearly what you want to change to, and then teach it to others.

You help others by engaging them and understanding them. Provide the knowledge. Show them how changing will benefit them personally. Often people come to work on automatic pilot. They think, speak, and act in conditioned ways. Invisible forces (the structure) drive behavior. Blaming and complaining tend to support what isn't working, because force creates counter force. If you can give people a reason and the knowledge to change their thinking and behaving, you will change your culture. It only takes one courageous visionary to start this. Is that person you?

Author's Bio: 

William Frank Diedrich is a speaker, executive coach and the author of Beyond Blaming: Unleashing Power and Passion in People and Organizations. This book is available in soft cover at . If you would like to purchase multiple quantities, scroll down the sales page where you can purchase ten copies for $ 100, free shipping in the USA.
Beyond Blaming is available in e-book format for $8.99 at both Amazon Kindle and at Barnes and Noble Nook, online.

Bill's new book, Adults at Work: How Leaders Can Help Individuals and Organizations Grow Up, will be available in September.

Bill has two blogs. Check them out:
Noblaming --
Intelligentspirit --