We all know people who hate their jobs, they complain about their colleagues, tasks, boss… and when I hear their stories I always want to just give them the chance to quit their job and do something else they would actually enjoy. Maybe, just maybe it is because I want that for myself.
I want to enjoy my life and for that to happen, I know for sure that I have to love what I do, and also where I do it, and with whom I do it.
To be honest I truly love my job. The challenges I am given, the colleagues that surround me, the boss who sees me and values me… And because of that I also do extra for the company, I sometimes pick up work during weekends, just because it fascinates me, I take on projects that are out of my work scope just because I know that I could help, I coach my colleagues and I talk about my company with all the cool people around me, just because I want them to join us.
So have you thought about what makes some people love their work and others hate it? -----
In my opinion and it is supported by lots of research, most people feel happy at work because of the corporate culture that surrounds them. And this culture could help you either flourish and grow and develop your business or destroy it.
I joined ECOMMPAY 8 years ago as the 7th person in the team, I’ve seen it grow and change, and for the past 3 years whenever I have time for something outside my usual work I think about our corporate culture, the way it has been changing over the years and what we could do to improve it even further.
It struck me 3 years ago that we were no longer a family at work, many of the initial people have left and we no longer knew each other like we did when we just started to work at ECOMMPAY. We used to be the closest people to each other, working together on insolvable challenges, staying in the office until late at night, parting till morning in our office bar and even going on holidays with each other.
However, at some point, some people had to leave us to move forward and pursue their dreams, and to be honest, at that point it felt to me as if my family was falling apart.
That was the point when I came across Netflix’s culture deck and realised that family culture is not really a thing. Reid the founder of Netflix is right, family is about unconditional love, and in a business that is not sustainable, a business should be about results, and the best colleagues should know how to push each other forward knowing that they may not be on the same team forever.
I talked about it with my boss, and he gave me another perspective, he said that ECOMMPAY is not any team, we should strive to be a basketball team, where none of the members would practice alone to become perfect, we have to know each other very well, we have to trust each other and play as a team.
This is how the idea of our culture clarified itself, we decided that we should do our best for the good of the company, we should only play together, never alone and together we will always achieve extraordinary results.
So the biggest question for me now is how do we make sure the culture that we have at our company becomes stronger every year, what do we have to do to build a strong team?
There is a joke about two fish swimming in an ocean, and it sounds like that:
Two young fish swims in an ocean, an older fish swims towards them and asks - hey youngsters, how is the water today?
The young fish nod and continue swimming, and suddenly one fish turns to another and asks - Hey, any idea what is water? ---
So, culture is like water, you live in it without even realising it when everything is clean and nice, however as with water your culture might become muddy or filled with rubbish, and at that point, it might be too late to fix it.
This is why I am so fascinated by it and it is why I feel that any leader should work on their culture from day one, keeping it clean and tidy for everyone in the company.
So today I want to help you do a checkup of your corporate culture using a great framework developed by Spotify. This framework of a winning corporate culture is made of 6 things:
1. Stuff gets done---
2. It gets done well---
3. People are happy---
4. Leaders provide direction and get out of the way---
5. Success is celebrated---
6. Failure is used as a way to learn---
So let me go through them 1 by 1.
Let’s start by saying that in a winning culture stuff gets done and it gets done well.
Easy right? But do remember that people don’t just like tasks for the sake of tasks, they need to see purpose in everything that they do. That purpose, in turn, orients all decisions employees make. So are you clear in your goals? Vision and mission of your company?
Do you measure the results of your business and individuals working for you? Do you provide regular feedback?
There are many articles on the importance of transparent feedback, this is very difficult to implement at any company, we are still struggling with that at ECOMMPAY. When implementing a feedback culture remember that the feedback has to be constructive and professional – and it has to go up, down and across the whole of the organisation.
At Netflix for example it is part of their culture to frequently ask others “what could I be doing better?” and themselves, “what feedback have I not yet shared?” They also have something called a 4A model where they say that any feedback should be Aimed to help and Actionable, and you have to Appreciate it and decide for yourself whether you want to Accept or disregard it.
The next aspect to check is - are your people happy?
From day one when a person joins your company, they have to feel that they are valued and that you have thought about how to introduce them to the team and their role.
It always strikes me when I hear stories that somebody is not performing well during the first 6 months… we all know that anyone who is brand new to a company should be the most motivated person to work there, they are usually the hardest working and energetic at our teams. The question is, how much time do we spend onboarding them, and is it the best we could do? If our onboarding is not helping the new employees understand the company, our rules and what is expected of them, chances are that they will struggle until we help them with it, and only at that point they will start to feel valued and will do their best work for the business.
The next aspect to check is- unnecessary action by leaders. Leaders should only be there to provide direction and guidance and should GET out of the way after that. This is not coming naturally to managers; we all sometimes try to do something to show our importance. However, for your culture to flourish, leaders have to know that this would be acceptable. And for that to work they have to have talent in place who shares the same goals and values and they have to have trust in their teams.
This view of leadership was best summed up by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the people to gather wood---, divide the work---, and give orders---. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea. “
The last 2 aspects to check are the easiest, yet most of us forget about their importance: how do you act when the goals are met? And what do you do at your company when a project fails?
Any success in your team should be celebrated, big, small, anything, this is the best feedback and motivation there is.
And any failures should be used to help us grow and develop. The best thing you could do as a leader and probably the most difficult one is showing by example that you don’t hide your failures but rather talk about them openly, share your getaways and open up this opportunity for the whole of your company.
For example, at ECOMMPAY we have decided that whenever we fail at a big project we have to talk about it at a global company meeting, explaining everything that has been done and why has it gone wrong. This helps all of us grow. And it gives people the courage to talk about their smaller failures in local teams. As a result of which we all become better and stronger.
So, what do you think? How healthy is your corporate culture?
Does stuff get done? Is it done to the best possible standard? Are people in your company happy? Do your managers become leaders by providing direction and getting out of the way? Do you celebrate success? And do you talk about your failures and let others learn from them?
And if anyone of those points is still not met at your company this is the best time to start working on those issues. Your culture is not set in stone, you still have lots of power to change and improve it. And all your best people should and will help you do that.
Remember that the results of your business are dependent on the results of your teams. And the results of each team are dependent on the results of each individual.
And it is in our power to make sure that every person who works with us feels happy. As you can see by my own example happy people work harder and do more! And a good corporate culture helps to attract the best talent there is and to achieve extraordinary results for your business.