Having a set corporate culture that works for everyone is key to building a successful company.
About two years ago, I was noticing the people in my office complaining about everything and everyone. From vendors to co-workers everybody seemed to believe that other people were just out to get them. They seemed to feel every mistake that was made was done on purpose. Needless to say the mood in the office was foul. It was nowhere near the vision I had for my company. A place where people were able to do great work and feel valued for that work. It was supposed to be a place that people look forward to coming to. Something had to change.
Call a Staff Meeting
Using my best corporate behavior I called a staff meeting on a Friday to discuss the situation. A staff meeting should be engaging and have a meaningful impact. We brought the leadership into the conference room and asked what was happening. No one seemed to want to respond, so I decided to start speaking about the problems at hand from my perspective. The result was that people started talking, well it was actually more so arguing than talking. Defensiveness ruled the conference room followed by blame. That meeting was a disaster. Trying to demand the culture be restored to my vision caused so much angst and grief the company almost blew apart right there. We cut the meeting short and everybody went back to neutral corners.
Rethinking the Alternatives:
Breaking for the weekend helped, but the mood around the office was still tense. We called another staff meeting on Wednesday. This time would be different. I started the meeting with an apology. Apologizing for the structure of the last meeting, my approach and letting the discussion get out of hand. I then asked everybody to close their eyes, take a deep breath and just relax for a minute. I went on to tell my story on why I do what I do. I described the pride I had in the company and the admiration and respect I had for every member of the team. I went on to tell about the friendships I had made with customers and vendors. I finished by explaining the feeling I get when we solve a complex problem for our customers.
The next step was to solicit the team and ask about their stories. Why they do what they do and why they decided to do it with our company? There were eight of us in the room, so this took a bit of time, but it was worth it. Not only did I get to hear the pride and passion my people possessed, their peers did as well. Overall, we heard some wonderful stories. Stories of overcoming obstacles and of the feelings they have for their work. More than that, was the stories of the pride they had in their peers. The trust that they felt. The bonds that had been created. Almost everybody choked up at some point and a few actually had tears. Some of the tears happened when they were telling their story and some when they heard the stories of others. Once the stories were all told, we circled back to try to understand why things had gotten so out of whack. Why the mood in the office had gotten sour. What we learned is that we simply forgot to be grateful. To recognize the others in the room, to show appreciation for having an organization where people do care about the work and each other. We got busy making money, trying to hit our numbers and forgot why we were actually here.
We are Still a Business
Don’t get me wrong, we do need to make a profit, people do need their salaries. We understand the economic necessities. We also understand that each one of us could make a living somewhere else, yet we chose this company and these people. With that realization, the company inches closer and closer to the vision in my mind of the place I want to help create. Our staff meetings are different now. No more lectures, we look for solutions rather than blame. We celebrate the successes and try to learn from the failures. Yes we still have numbers we need to make, but we really do have a higher purpose. That purpose is to create economic opportunities while fulfilling our passions and purpose.
If you’re interested in learning more about the corporate culture at Lead2Goals, take a few moments to check out our About section.