I’m prefacing this as part 1 because I have a feeling this is going to end up being a multi part series. Culture is such a tricky thing – while easy to feel, it can be hard to define. It can be disrupted by so many factors and when it’s wrong, it’s disaster. Without strong personalities to keep it on course, it so easily steers away from its path.
I think too often management is either out of touch with the real culture or they’re deliberately ignoring it. A quick scan of Glassdoor tells you if your culture needs work or not and it’s best not to ignore those signs or it could really cost you down the line.
An undefined or unrepresented culture will be set by the employee and may not be at all what the founder intended. An unnatural culture, defined by management but left up to interpretation, means employees may misunderstand the meaning, feel unimportant and not engaged which results in misery. So where’s the balance?
I have no answer. I’m still learning myself.
Here’s what I know for sure – if you set a culture, then change it without warning it will dramatically affect the productivity, wellness and happiness of your team. You may make positive changes or negative changes (in the eyes of your employees), either way, there will be an impact. Personally, I think all changes should be carefully managed and communicated well.
While I don’t hold the magic key to culture, I am inspired by things I see happening at many companies. I love Reddit’s no negotiation policy and salary bars. I love Netflix’s willingness to open their employee handbook to the public and share their vision on ever-changing culture. I love that there’s a thriving HR community on Reddit and Slack helping others with questions. These are all positives for companies overall. The more we share, the better we all become.