The Three Foundations of a Strong Firm Culture
The Green Apple Podcast does weekly “Green Apple Slices”, where John Garrett and Rachel Fisch discuss a recent business article related to the Green Apple Message. These shorter segments are released each Monday, so don’t miss an episode by subscribing on iTunes or an Android app.
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Happy Monday, everyone. It’s John Garrett. Another episode of Green Apple Slices, coming to you with the Accountants Group Leader for Sage in Canada, Rachel Fisch.
Rachel: Hey, John.
John: Every week, we always get together and talk through an article and it’s always fun to just get our take on some things and this week, I’ve found an article from Accounting Today, my friend the editor Daniel Hood wrote an article after going to a Rootworks conference and seeing Chris Rund speak, the article called The Three Foundations of a Strong Firm Culture. I’m always a big fan when it’s only three because then I can remember them.
Rachel: Three I can handle, yeah. Seven? No, not so much.
John: Yeah, exactly. I thought it was really great, some really great quotes. And just really talking about these three separate elements – doctrine, leadership, and ritual. And then where they intersect is where the culture kind of happens and take shape.
Rachel: Yeah, and I really like this because this was something that I hadn’t quite seen outlined like this before so we talked about culture kind of being this nebulous thing and how you get it and how you instill it in your staff and things like that but if you can kind of break it down, because remember, accountants and bookkeepers and other professional services are very analytical and they’re very organized usually and so they need steps, right? In many cases, there are always exceptions. Don’t send me that Twitter’s or whatever. It’s great if you can provide guidelines to follow so I thought this was actually one of the more unique articles that we had read on what the different components are that make up that. So I thought it was great.
John: Yeah, yeah, really good. And also, the thing, the magic secret sauce or whatever to all of this that makes it happen is just to communicate regularly which is amazing that we have to say that but that’s not the norm.
Rachel: But I don’t even think we can say it enough though. It just seems like there’s something about even basic human interaction or communication. We’ve talked before about how it really doesn’t take a lot of effort to express appreciation or to let people know that you’re interested in them as people as opposed to just worker bees and things like that so yeah, it’s amazing how communication is so key and yet gets over our life so much.
John: Yeah, but Rachel, we communicated through a survey, doesn’t that count? I mean isn’t that good enough?
Rachel: No, it doesn’t. Okay, so let’s maybe start talking about some of these three elements.
John: Absolutely, yeah. Great idea, Rachel. The first one was doctrine which he calls basically like the firm’s mission and its values and its vision and kind of the brand promises and the business model and all those things that I think most people think of first when they think of the business and what a business is all about.
Rachel: Well, it’s definitely what people see as what their step one is, right? So if we want to get culture, we need to write a mission statement or a vision or a statement of values to make sure we post that on a wall somewhere so although I think that it’s a good exercise to do, I think that the importance of it comes in being able to actually deliver the message which may require communication to your staff.
John: Right, right. And that I think leads right into number two which is leadership.
Rachel: Yeah, which is leadership and I saw this really great tweet actually from Jesse Lyn Stoner. The quote is, “Great leaders are willing to follow. Leadership is a dance and not a parade.” I think that leadership has its own set of skills and so if you’re coming out of school and going into your career and stuff like that, I think some, especially the larger firms forget that those skills that are required to be great leaders and be great managers do actually require a separate set of skills and to take the time and the effort that it takes to actually be building up leaders within your organization.
John: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. Then the third foundation was ritual which is yeah, kind of the shared experiences or the way that a firm does things or the onboarding process or promoting employees or recognizing people for achievements, kind of the what makes you unique?
Rachel: Right. So when I first saw the word, I’m like ritual? Really? Thinking ceremonial things or traditional things which usually people like —
John: Right, put on this road and all of this —
Rachel: Yeah. Not often a great thing or not always — anyway, but in this case, absolutely. It’s how you do the things that you do basically. It’s amazing how there’s a correlation between what your doctrine is and how you lead with what your rituals are, with what those things that you do are because if you’re trying to tell your staff —
This came actually last week, if you’re trying to tell your staff that you operate a certain way and yet everything that you’re doing goes completely against how you say things are going to go, that doesn’t make sense to anybody and you’re going to have a really inconsistent model in your firm but if you make sure that those actions, whatever they may be align with your doctrine and are delivered well through your leadership team, then that’s kind of as you said, like that intersection where you get that great culture piece.
John: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. So there you go. So if you want to read the article, check out greenapplepodcast.com.
But it’s so great talking to you again, Rachel. I hope you have a good rest of the week.
Rachel: You too, John. Talk to you later.