Humans are social creatures. We seek out other humans for all kinds of reasons. From companionship and protection to the division of labor and reproduction. There is great value in surrounding yourself with other great humans. Because like ants and bees, humans can do far more together than we could alone. (Especially the reproduction part.)
All human groups have a culture. Like yogurt. The culture creates rules, whether explicit or implied, that govern the way members behave.
I have been part of great cultures and I have spent time in organizations that had very negative cultures. The difference between the two types of organizations is immense. Not just in the enjoyability of the environment, but in the results they produce and the talent they attract and retain.
If your team is regularly losing good people you have a culture problem. But if good people are seeking you out, you likely have a very good thing going. Don’t eff it up.
A great culture is the secret sauce that helps separate great organizations from the merely good. In Jim Collins’ book Good To Great, he writes that an organization is like a bus. You have to get the wrong people off the bus, get the right people on the bus, and get everyone in the right seats.
But there is more to the bus analogy.
While an organization is like a bus, the organizational culture influences what the bus ride feels like. Is there music? Are people talking? Are there roars of laughter? Is it quiet and serious? Is there a team activity happening on the bus? Storytelling? Games? A leader playing tour guide? Or are there jerks sneaking up behind you to dish out wet willies and wedgies?
It is what is happening on the bus, the feel, the vibe, the energy, and the activity, that makes the bus ride enjoyable, or not. And we all spend far too much time at work and with our various other teams not to enjoy the ride.
Culture creates a magnetic force within your organization. A positive culture attracts great people who share the same values and enjoy team success. They come together on the bus to spend as much time interacting and feeding off of each as they can. A negative culture forces great people away. Which means they either don’t get on the bus, or they keep to themselves the entire ride, minimizing the collective power of your organization. So make sure to pay close attention to the kind of force your culture creates.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
+For more of the best life lessons I have learned check out my book, What Does Your Fortune Cookie Say? and the soon-to-be-released The Culture Turnaround that I co-authored with Jeff Hillimire. Both books are published by Ripples Media.
Cover image courtesy of Prevost