How your Company’s Unwritten Rules can Break its Culture
The Green Apple Podcast is doing 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 Stitcher.
This week, John and Rachel discuss a Financial Review article, “How your Company’s Unwritten Rules can Break its Culture” by Steve Simpson.
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John: Rachel, so great to have you back. Thank you so much for taking time to talk with me again.
Rachel: Thanks. My pleasure.
John: See, it’s always your pleasure, and I think you’re lying. I’m not going to kid you. I think you are lying.
Rachel: I say that a lot and then I’m like, I hope people don’t think that this is weird. No, but it is truly my pleasure to collaborate with other professionals in this way.
John: Right, all right. How Canadian of you. You’re just too kind — too kind.
Rachel: Too kind. Oh, sorry. I’m sorry.
John: See, now that’s more like it. Thank you for apologizing. I mean you’re welcome for apologizing. Why am I thanking? But yes, this week I came across an article that reminded me of when I was talking with Deja Sconiers on Episode 53, the Hawaiian connoisseur. I read this article that was in Australia’s Financial Review and I sent it to you. It was how a company’s unwritten rules can break its culture. I thought that that was a really interesting article and something that we had talked about in our episode but I thought that — and Deja’s was a really interesting thing because hers was kind of the upside down of the corporate culture where she works at a place that maybe isn’t super conducive to that, not like the top down sort of a thing where everyone’s doing it. But within that small world she’s able to kind of make it happen with two or three or five close confidants that she’s developed confidence in over time to be able to share with them. But I thought this article was really great.
Rachel: I just think that culture is kind of one of those really overused words right now. I’m not sure if everybody has — like what does it actually mean? I’m sure there’s this joke, what’s the difference between brand in Manitoba and yogurt. Yogurt has culture.
John: Oh, there you go.
Rachel: It’s kind of funny. What’s the difference between insert your accounting firm name here and yogurt? What did yogurt — yeah. But what does that actually mean? Where does that come from? Is it something that kind of emanates from people? Is it a directive top down? A while ago and I don’t know if it still has the craze that it did where it’s like everybody needs a mission statement, and then everybody needs core values. I think that’s still really good. But what’s more important is how you take those things and then actually deliver them day after day within your organization. One thing that I really loved about your guest is that she found that her organization didn’t seem to have that, but she, in a smaller group of people, craved it so much that they actually built it themselves, almost like this subculture within a company.
I think it’s important to note that yes, I think that culture is something that needs to be intentional. It needs to be something that you actively work on. It doesn’t happen by accident and if it does, it’s probably not the culture that you’re looking for.
Rachel: But all hope is not lost if you’re not happy with your work’s culture because you are able to, through interpersonal relationships at work and through getting to know people better and finding common ground, kind of create this other piece that does allow works to be more fulfilling, that does make it good to go in to work every day.
John: Absolutely, yeah, because I mean when you’re there at work and you’re talking about work, I mean that’s fine because that’s why you’re there. But when you talk to people about their hobbies and their passions or what they’re doing outside of work, their eyes get bigger. Their tone increases.
Rachel: It brightens, right. They lighten up.
John: It’s like a breath of oxygen in a deprived world. There’s color.
Rachel: In this otherwise dead — yeah.
John: Yeah, there’s like color all of a sudden.
Rachel: Yeah, which is awesome and it’s true. I guess we could kind of talk about so in an organization, how do you generate and reproduce a culture that you want? And as individuals, how do we kind of build what we want? I think, first of all, you need to know what you want. If she didn’t have this group of people that were able to open up, would she still be at the organization? Probably not, but that had to been something within her and within her coworkers that had that need that needed to be filled. It’s going to be filled one of two ways. Either within your company or within your coworkers and if it’s not filled either way, they’re going to look somewhere else.
John: Definitely. That’s why people leave. I remember when I left jobs, it was mostly because of the manager. You leave the people. You don’t necessarily leave the company.
Rachel: Right. But in order to leave the people, you have to leave the company.
John: Well, yeah, exactly. Because if you take the same group of people that’s really, really awesome and then you change the name of the company, well the company is still going to be really great to work for. But if you take everyone out of Google, let’s say, and drop in the worst possible people to work with, it would be terrible to work at Google.
Rachel: It’s probably not going to be Google.
John: It will probably shut its doors. In this article, I thought it’s kind of alarming just how many people are just either apathetic or completely disengaged at work. This was in Australia, New Zealand and I think in the US it’s only 24% are actually engaged. That’s 76% that could really not care at all.
Rachel: That are a waste of payroll dollars.
John: Yeah, exactly, exactly.
Rachel: And then the extreme of that is the ones that are actually actively disengaged. You’re not only disengaged; you are actively, you know. Are you sabotaging projects, dragging other people down with you? Just the cost of those, I mean it’s in the tens of billions of dollars which is pretty alarming.
John: Right, absolutely. That’s something that you said. It’s twofold where you are sabotaging projects of the company, but you’re also sabotaging coworkers. In the US economy in 2015, it was $500 billion was estimated lost due to lack of engagement. It’s a lot of money that’s at stake there. How do you counter that? I think it’s just to show genuine interest in the people you work with.
Rachel: Right. One common theme that I was seeing between all of the different ways that you can encourage culture and encourage that is actually just through open communication. You can drill all of those different elements that create culture down to communication. Do I feel valued? Well, how do you find value? How do you find your value displayed? How do you know if your manager believes in you? Because they tell you that they do and they trust you with projects. How do you know that your feedback is appreciated? Because it’s taken into consideration when it comes to decision-making time.
All of these are just different elements of communication, verbal and nonverbal, of course. If we can get that piece right, then I think everything else will fall into place. It starts as easy as when somebody does something well, thank them, praise them. When somebody does something not so good, work with them to improve it. It’s not terribly rocket science, but I think everybody is just kind of blinders on, thinking down getting their work done and don’t take those two seconds. Honestly, it takes no time at all to reach out and connect with that other person.
John: Yeah. That’s an excellent takeaway that everyone can do. Quit listening right now and go talk to your people. But, no, I mean that’s exactly what it is. It’s just having that genuine interest in people. You trust them, and they’ll trust you back. You give them respect; they’ll give you respect back. Like you said, it’s not rocket science, but it does take a little bit of time. But that little bit of time pays dividends huge.
John: That was awesome. Well, thank you so much, Rachel. We’ll be back again next week. This was great. Thank you so much.
Rachel: Talk to you later.