Protecting Your Company’s Culture – whose job is it? by Jim Johnson

In my last post, I introduced how team members can have confidence in building their company’s culture.  I shared about those critical moments when an employee has to make decisions about how to respond to counter-cultural situations.  The best course of action, in my opinion, is to do these 3 things as a matter of habit:

  • PROMOTE – This is where we actively, intentionally promote the very best of our company.
  • PRACTICE – The best way to promote a company’s culture is to practice it.
  • PROTECT

By protecting the culture I mean intentionally standing up for it.  Let me give an example.

You are in the company’s lunch room.  You hear one employee gossiping (assume negatively) about someone who is not present.  Others are around listening and sometimes joining in. Others are doing and saying nothing.

At that moment, what can you do to PROTECT your company’s culture.  You know what you are observing is NOT going build a healthy culture.  You know what you are hearing is hurtful and not helpful.  So what can YOU do?

protect

In my opinion, you have the right – and responsibility – to approach the gossiper.  Wait…what?!?!  Yes, YOU  have this right.  But take the right approach:

 

  • Approach the gossiper in private.  Don’t create even more negative drama by calling them out in front of a group.  That rarely, if ever, works.  Yes, what that person is doing is wrong, but professionally meet with them in private.  This will truly help “save face” to the one in the wrong.
  • Explain what you heard.  Tell them that the company’s culture is too valuable to make room for hurtful talk about each other.  Tell this person you believe they are better than they portrayed themselves to the group in the lunch room.  Maybe even ask them, “How do you think people perceived you when you talked about that other person in the way you did?  Do you think any of them may believe you’d do the same thing about them?  I want you to be better than this.  I hope you would want the same thing for me and others here.”  Help this person understand you care not only for the person being maligned but that you care for the gossiper, too.  Face it, most of us become blind to certain behaviors and attitudes.  But approach this person with the intent to help them become better.  
  • Tell them that you are not their supervisor, but as an employee of this company, you care about things that move the company forward.  And you care about things that hold the company back.  And you care about the people that work here.

Please note:  this is NOT simple to do.  Too often things get in the way of us making the right choice to protect our culture:

  • Easy. It’s just as easy to not act as it is to act. Just like losing weight or exercising or reading or being intentional in a relationship….easy to do and not easy to do.
  • Fear. We fear taking a stand.  I’ll admit it, it is scary!
  • Deflection. “It’s not my job. I’m not a manager, VP, CEO…”
    • Since when is protecting our culture the sole responsibility of a supervisor?
    • If you saw someone trying to kidnap a child at the mall, you would step in, right? Or would you tell yourself, “hey, it’s not my kid…”?
  • Self-worth. Too many times, we don’t take a stand because of what we say to ourselves.
    • “I’m just a low-level employee.  I have no authority.”
    • “People will make fun or treat me badly.  I don’t want to risk that.”
    • “I’ve only been with the company for 18 months. I don’t know enough to speak up.”
    • Who am I to speak up?  What do I know? I should shut up.”

But your company’s culture is worth protecting and nurturing!  Every time to PROMOTE, PRACTICE,  and PROTECT your culture, you help build momentum.

And when momentum builds, it becomes the norm.

You help raise the standard.

You don’t settle.

You refuse to live to the lowest common denominator.

The culture becomes more alive.

You/We become the culture.

 

Next, I’ll share some practical ways to PROMOTE and PRACTICE the culture.

 

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