Take The Pickle ChallengeHumanities
“Blaming, whining, deflecting accountability, risk aversion, and resistance to change are but a handful of symptoms of the adversity-beaten individual and organization. More serious indicators include individual and collective helplessness, organizational turnover, and general stagnation.”
Paul Stoltz: Adversity Quotient at Work
The emotional climate of a workplace is determined by what you expect and what you tolerate, and over time what you tolerate will dominate what you say you expect. A positive workplace culture begins with intolerance for toxic emotional negativity. As I said in my book The Florence Prescription: From Accountability to Ownership: “One toxically negative person can drag down morale and productivity of an entire work unit.”
When everyone on a work unit makes a good faith effort to break the complaining habit (and yes, it is a habit) it changes everything. I know of one 12-person hospital department where someone brought in a pickle jar and, in a good-humored way, they started fining each other a quarter for every instance of toxic emotional negativity. They raised more than $80 in one month – and you know they didn’t catch them all! Both patient satisfaction and employee engagement went from the bottom quartile to the top ten percent almost overnight.
Wherever you work, I can promise you this: if I could wave a magic wand over your organization and for 30 days there would be no bitching, moaning, whining and complaining (the other BMW Club!), you would never go back. Just as we will never again tolerate people lighting cigarettes in the workplace, you would quickly appreciate how nice it is to work in a place that is free of toxic emotional negativity. In fact, you might even use the word miracle to describe the transformation.
The Pickle Challenge™ is taking on a life of its own! All across the country we’re hearing about singing pickles, dancing pickles, pickle piñatas, pickle pledge boards, Pickle Pledge(tm) fundraisers, signs designating pickle-free workspaces (the way we used to designate certain areas as smoke-free zones), and pickle-free pins, buttons, and t-shirts.
I think there are two reasons the Pickle Challenge has gotten such traction. The first is simply that it is such a great visual metaphor. We can all visualize the chronic complainer and gossip who looks like he or she was suckled on a dill pickle instead of a pacifier.
The second reason is far more important – because people are finding that it works. At both the level of the individual trying to cultivate a happier and more positive mental attitude and of the employee group working to foster a more collegial and supportive workplace environment, The Pickle Challenge and the simple promise included in The Pickle Pledge can have a literally miraculous effect.