The Two ‘M’s of Improving Attitude and Culture

Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets improved.” I agree with Mr. Drucker and I think there’s more. I have studied a school of thought called Organization Ontologics (O2) in which I learned the Principle of Progress. It goes like this:

“What you monitor, people do. What you measure, people improve. What you celebrate, people become. You can’t celebrate what you haven’t measured and you can’t measure what you haven’t monitored so be careful what you monitor because that’s what people will become.”


What does this have to do with attitudes or culture? The first “M” of improving attitude and culture is ‘Monitor’. The best way to monitor behavior is to model it. From a culture perspective, if you monitor that which you do not model, you build a culture of hypocrisy and resentment. There does not need to be perfection in modeling a desired behavior or attitude. Perhaps you would like to grow your culture and add something new. As long as leaders model the process of learning the new thing, they can maintain that positive growth. Just like parenting, if we had to be perfect at everything we expect our kids to do, not a single person would be qualified to be a parent. But, modeling a learning attitude and a growth mindset gives the leader the opportunity to build a camaraderie with those they lead because they are sharing the journey.

Now, I’ve kind of beaten around the bush a little so that I didn’t get to Morale too soon. The second “M” is ‘Morale’. The inconsistency in what is monitored vs what is modeled will damage morale. There is another principle from O2 that I have learned called the Principle of Morale. It goes like this:

“There are 3 reasons to evaluate someone’s performance. The first is to celebrate their success. The second is to improve the system in which they operate. And the third is to hold them accountable for their commitments. If you break this order, you damage morale.”

If you haven’t asked someone to commit, the first way to improve the system in which they operate is to ask for the appropriate commitments.

Morale is the confidence, enthusiasm, or discipline of a group at a given time. It is the attitude of your organization. Attitude determines behavior.

I have put all of this in the context of an organization. Let’s make it personal. From a personal perspective, you improve attitude with the same tools; Modeling and Morale. When improving your own attitude, you need to find a model and follow the principle of morale. When teaching someone else to improve their attitude, you become the model and follow the principle of morale.

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