One of the reasons I love my job is our company culture. Our former MD frequently quoted Mark Drucker by saying: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”.
When external people work with us or for us, we often get told what a great company we are. I’ve heard us being called “a bit PC”, but a great company with lovely, amazing, hardworking people.
So, what’s different, and what is it about this culture I love so much?
Well, when we’re in the office (Remember pre 2020, when people went to offices to work?), we hold the door for people (which means it can take some time to get anywhere during peak times). We don’t tell people to do stuff; we ask nicely. We say please and thank you. We come up with solutions; ways to make sure we can, instead of reasons to say we can’t. We learn never to get complacent. We focus on being inclusive and understanding. We get involved in charity and volunteering. And we make an effort to make work enjoyable and fun!
What we don’t do? We don’t throw people under the bus when things go wrong. We fix the issue and learn to do better next time. We don’t raise our voice at people. We don’t give people “an ear full” and we don’t use scare tactics.
When I started working for this company 3 years ago, I was anxiously waiting for the moment someone would shout at me. Or at anyone really. Or tell me “we could have a different conversation” if I didn’t get behind something that clashed with my moral values.
That moment never came.
I don’t even know why I consider this to be exceptional.
Well, actually, I do: Because I’ve experienced places, departments and projects where it was accepted to raise your voice at people or make them feel bad in any other way. I was used to having meetings in my calendar to be nervous about. Meetings of which I knew there was just no way of winning. We’d be shouted at whether we under- or overachieved (when we overachieved we’d been accused of sandbagging). I’ve been in situations where I saw grown men walking out of meetings crying. Not a one off: plural.
None of those places were nearly as successful as the one I’m working for now.
I believe shouting at people is the most stupid thing you can do, especially in any type of leadership position. Why would you? Only to vent your frustration? It sure doesn’t reflect well on you. You ‘ll seem out of control, out of your depth and you certainly won’t encourage the people you’re shouting at to do well or enjoy their job.
People who are scared to make mistakes are likely to start making more mistakes. And when they do make mistakes, they’ll be scared to own up to their mistakes. That can lead to escalations and disasters that could have been prevented if you would’ve chosen to focus on solutioning instead of finger pointing and finding scapegoats.
I believe in treating people the way you like to be treated. I’m not saying you have to like everyone, or everybody needs to be your best friend. But it’s certainly a given that having good relationships will lead to people being more likely to be willing to do things for you.
So, my company might be “a bit PC”, but if it means we’re aiming to be kind, helpful and humble I’m happy to be sigend up for that. It also means people are much more likely to do things for each other and achieve great stuff together. Even in unprecedented times.
Saying please and thank you goes a long way. Being kind and making people feel appreciated goes a long way. And you know what, you can do all of that, especially when times are tough, and it doesn’t cost you a thing.
As a wise former CEO I know used to say: “Don’t be a D*ck”
Kindness might even benefit your own well being!