I’ve never done a guest blog post on here before but everything I wanted to say about what the essence of “culture” was better expressed in her piece by my friend Dr. Julia Furedi.
Yesterday, during a podcast speaking about Emotional Banking and the book, we also announced how terribly lucky I am to have Julia – an amazingly smart and overly qualified, ex HR SVP bank exec and former client of the method join me in changing the world of banking.
Aside for the overwhelming amount of supporting comments we got the usual reaction of virtual eye roll when we mentioned “people not tech” and in particular “culture” and it struck me that with confusion in terms running a-mock in the industry there’s a real chance people no sooner understand “Culture” than they understand “Brand”. I’ll leave Julia to clearly break it down in this post below.
BE THE YOGHURT
by Dr. Julia Furedi
Yoghurts have a live and active culture and promote health. You can have that too.
But how do you know if your company has a healthy culture that is resilient and lively that would promote longevity for all in it?
Here is how to be a ’YOGHURT’ in your corporate culture:
1. Yes, you do have one
Whether you are aware of it or not, your company -big or small- does have a culture.
Let’s de-mystify the term ‘culture’ It is simply a set of behaviours that each and every employee shows when at work. Now of course each and every individual behaves in a different way but if you can pinpoint a set of behaviours that is mostly demonstrated and considered to be the ‘norm’, there is a thread of the fabric of culture for you.
For example, what happens when somebody makes a mistake? Is there a common understanding about the severity levels, possible actions? Are there no consequences, are people afraid to face up their mistakes or is it a learning experience for all that is embraced, talked about and no shaming takes place? Is there a common understanding and conduct among managers when a mistake is being made?
Another example is success. What qualifies as a success? Does your company celebrate successes and who are involved in that? Are there instant feedbacks?
So first, let’s be clear on what you have and assess the major behaviours of your company.
2. Owning it
Once you are aware of what your culture consists of, you need to own it. By owning it, I mean to be fully aware of how it helps or hinders your daily business, the interactions with your clients, your internal processes and the overall well-being of your employees.
It is way more complex though than starting an employer branding campaign.
The way your culture is being cultivated it strengthens the behaviours that have an overall positive effect on the colleagues, while weeding out the ones that are detrimental.
It is a continuous job that is needed to be done by everyone no matter where they are in the corporate hierarchy. More often than not we see the best intentions of the management die quickly when employees do not feel they can identify with them. Just like in a family walking the talk is the most effective way.
3. Growing it
A culture -see yoghurts- is alive by nature.
That means that culture needs to be approached as something we live with and adjust, alter, nip and tuck along the way. Culture is not a project with a deadline when we can announce it is done. It is never done. A healthy culture is in which everyone feels safe, motivated and is able to grow. The good and bad news are that each culture is unique and certain things that work well at other companies or even in yours with a different management five years before, might be a dead end her and now. However this is also the beauty of it.
Have you ever put yoghurt in the microwave? I can assure you that you will have a warm yoghurt but you can also be sure there will be no culture in it. Too much heat kills it. Translating it into the corporate lingo, conflicts are good and help growth however too much of it will destroy your people.
How much is too much, I hear you ask. I can not answer that but you will feel it in your guts when you witness it in meetings, there are harsh words spoken and personal agendas surface. Trust me, you’ll know.
5. Ugly stuff
I have a bad sense of smell. So if I want to know if my yoghurt is off, I ask my husband to smell and tell.
People surveys, engagement assessments even exit interviews might be the way to ‘smell’ what is going on within the corporate culture but there are more down to earth signals along the way that will show you the red flag. The flaring of gossip mongering, losing key people, appointments of people that does not make sense from either a professional or managerial point of view, some managers cumulating excessive amount of power upsetting internal balance.
Only if these are isolated incidents, a healthy culture will win them over and the system will recover.
What would make you change the corporate culture? A new CEO, a different business strategy, high employee turnover, market challenges? All of them or any of them could be a good enough reason to start assessing it (see 1.point) and define the direction. However changing corporate culture does not happen overnight and it is hard work. It might involve changing communication, organisational structures, processes and sometimes even people. But the result is well worth it!
Once I saw a quote that said, find your tribe and love them hard. I found it especially appealing as it brings positive emotions into a corporate environment. People thrive in a culture that appreciates them. I have come from an industry where the customer is king. I could never identify with that. I do believe that our people are first because if we do not take care of our own, what does it say to our clients? Being proud, happy, feeling connected, celebrating each day will surely transpire and will attract customers. Let these positive emotions be the backbone of a corporate culture!
So, be like the yoghurt!