Be Vigilant About Your Culture

This is the best advice I ever got from a lawyer.

I had just become a staff supervisor for the first time. So off I went to corporate headquarters for Supervisor Training

We learned a lot of important concepts in the training. Some of it was not fun: how to handle "underperforming" team members; harassment; discrimination; salary setting processes; and a slew of other biases, difficulties, and nuances that suddenly become a big part of your job when you sign up to be a manager. 

The mechanics of dealing with these situations can suck all the honor of taking on new responsibility.

It led us - a group of new supervisors from around the globe with good intentions to do the right thing - to a long conversation about preserving and maintaining company culture. How can we minimize the need for these official procedures? How can we make sure new employees understand the people-focused legacy of our company? How can we make sure that multiple generations (or people from different departments, or with different kinds of expertise and job responsibilities) understand and talk with each other?

The lawyer who was speaking to us was from Human Resources, and his tone was strident and clear. It has stuck with me all these years. 

Be vigilant about the culture.

He implored us to take personal responsibility every day, in every situation, to create and maintain the culture we want and to encourage every colleague to do the same. 

In the years since that advice, I've studied, practiced, mentored, and taught extensively on this topic. It's now at the heart of my work with professionals and organizations. But what does it look like to be vigilant about culture?

It starts with you.

If you want to work with or inside of organizations and communities that:

engage and communicate in a healthy way...

...then learn everything you can about how to build new skills and capacity to connect with others.

value your potential and abilities...

...then work to better understand and describe the real value of your contributions and those of others too.

invest in your growth and leadership...

...then make a practice of investing in your own continued development, as well as those around you.

(You see the pattern here. I bet you can write great responses for these other common frustrations I get from clients, colleagues, and friends:)

aren't quite so arrogant...

are daring and innovative and try new things...

really show respect and listen to your perspective...

help you solve the problems you see...

tell the whole truth about what's going on...

are willing to deal with problems that come up and not brush them under the rug...

aren't fueled by anger, discrimination. and name-calling...

hold themselves and others accountable...

don't get bogged down in bureaucracy, personal agendas, or tunnel vision...

I've seen versions of these blind spots and double standards play out in almost every single human being I've been honored to know and work with (including myself). So if you read this and catch yourself thinking, "I don't need this but boy it would be good for so-and-so...," or, "That's fine for someone with more influence but I don't get any say in that," I challenge you to notice this week if you can find one more way that you might let be letting a frustration or other habitual reaction feed the negativity or inaction around you. 

That's the deal. If you decide to throw up your hands or shrug your shoulders and say any version of, "Things are going downhill and nobody is doing anything about it," let me hold up that mirror for you.

You create the culture around you. 

 

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Ready to move beyond the blog to get personalized support in creating the culture you really want? Let's talk.

Erin Mosley