Each of us can choose what behaviors we exhibit

Culture is everyone’s job.

It’s made up of everyone and every interaction in the company. If it’s happening at the organization, it’s a part of our culture. Whether we like it or not.

There is no such thing as nonexistent culture. It’s either intentional or not.

Years ago, one of my junior coworkers was bemoaning the fact that our company culture had become unfriendly and overly professional. Pretty standard for any company that doubles in size over a few years.

And understandably frustrating. But my question to her was, how many days last week did you eat lunch alone at your desk? When was the last time you took off your headphones, sat down next to a new team member for five minutes, and asked them about their life?

It’s not like some uncontrollable cosmic force suddenly sucked all the friendliness out of the air, and now you are helplessly trapped in some cold, isolated environment against your will.

Don’t blame the culture that you built. Maybe instead of noticing a problem, doing nothing to solve it, complaining about it, and then resenting the organization for having it, try giving what you need. Be a leader and take the first step. Create the culture you want to see. Use the office as a platform for authentic human expression and connection.

Because here’s the thing about organizations. They operate on norms, not rules. Every action that you choose to take reinforces the path you have chosen, and the paths you have foregone. Each of us can choose what behaviors we exhibit.

If your come into the office everyday and your actions are not reinforcing the positive, then they’re probably strengthening the negative.

Korman, the founder of my favorite culture design firm, wrote a comprehensive article in a top management review journal about framing culture as management system. Here’s what he said. Culture isn’t foosball and pizza, it’s the operating system of your business. Operationally, what company culture really is comprised of, is a set of beliefs, mindset, mental models around how people do their work. And those beliefs, which together creates a mindset, are what informs people’s behaviors, moment to moment, day to day in their organizations. It’s those behaviors that give you your operational power.

Lesson learned, each of us has a responsibility to create the culture we want to work in.

If we don’t like something, we can change it. Or we can at least try.

It’s a hell of lot better than standing mute, watching the culture go to shit and waiting for the opportunity to tell everyone, see, I told you so. 

What are your organization’s cultural norms that have evolved over time and are accepted to be true?


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Author. Speaker. Strategist. Songwriter. Filmmaker. Inventor. Gameshow Host. World Record Holder. I also wear a nametag 24-7. Even to bed.
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