I think it only fitting that I reference Culture after my recent Culture Summit conference in San Francisco.
Culture – I believe best summed up as “what your employee’s do when no one is watching”.
That is a good measuring stick to what is a fluffy and intangible topic.
The Cambridge dictionary defines culture as “the way of life”.
What one person does when no one is watching will likely differ from another. One’s way of life will likely also differ from the next person.
So why do we insist on creating a culture or “way of life” in an organisation that brings together people from all different perspectives and expect that it will always be a cohesive & sticky process?
What is a top question people ask at an interview - “what is the culture of this company?”.
The text book answer is, we’re not hierarchical, open door policy, we live by our Values (which you can see in the foyer), we are very inclusive, management listen…the list goes on.
The new starter nods and gets wide eyed at imagining this mirage. When the newbie comes on board, how do they learn how to adapt to this new “way of life”?
By watching your company Rituals in action. A ritual is defined “a repeated set of actions”.
Let’s get nostalgic for a second and look to our home lives past and present. What does dinner time conjure for you if you think back to your childhood?
This is the journey, Susan Lee, Head of People at Warby Parker took her audience on at The Culture Summit when she shared that growing up in her household everyone would sit down at the dinner table to eat a cooked meal. This happened each and every night and became a family ritual.
Consider a new person on their first day – what rituals would they notice in your workplace?
If you don’t have any, some for consideration could be:
During your recruitment process, when you get asked the question you can say – we all come together daily to share the daily news over coffee, we share positive feedback within our team, we have no devices in team meetings to distract from the person speaking. This gives the job seeker a tangible item and a picture – they can imagine working for you.
With key rituals in place, your culture or “way of life” becomes more measured and confined. It is more palatable for new starters and becomes easier for them to adapt, survive and thrive.
Perhaps the question we should be asking in interviews is “what rituals do you have”?
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