Tag Archives: water cooler talk

Whispers at the Water Cooler

“I don’t get it,” Alicia explained. “We just had a meeting on how to rescue this stalled project. No one came up with any ideas. For an hour. It was like waiting to go see the dentist.”

“So, your team didn’t isolate the problem,” I prompted.

“Oh yeah, they did, just not in the meeting. We wasted an entire hour. Only when the meeting was over, I find out, at the water cooler, the project is stalemated because the two project leaders are angry at each other.”

“Someone told you at the water cooler?” I asked.

“Oh, no, I only found out by accident. There were two people whispering a little too loud. I put two and two together.”

So, why didn’t this come up at the meeting?”

“I don’t know,” Alicia wondered out loud. “It’s like it was a secret. A secret everyone was too scared to talk about.”

Unofficial Whispers

All kinds of conversations occur about people and behavior in every company. These conversations will take place at the water cooler, the coffee break room, in meetings and in emails. They will occur in official communications and unofficial whispers. All of the conversations drive and document the culture inside the organization.

For the company that has determined its values mindset, actively talking about the positive aspects of people and their contribution (behaviors) is critical. The purpose is to identify those conversations and amplify them so they become the driving force, the tribal history.

These are the conversations that keep us alive. These are the conversations that distinguish one company from the next, one that is struggling and the other that sees success. What does yours sound like?