J: Welcome to Slingshot25 Shotcast.The series of bite-sized podcasts will feel like an espresso shot. I’m Jackie.
C: And I’m Courtney.
J: Something that we’ve been thinking about is culture.
C: What is that?
J: You said that with such enthusiasm, Courtney.
C: I know because people say culture all the time.
J: It’s becoming a corporate weasel word.
C: Culture, culture, culture.
J: Well, we’ve been talking about culture because, of course, it is a real thing, and it shapes everything we do all day long at work. So, we thought we might take just a few minutes to say something.
C: I don’t know, maybe something clarifying, maybe a way that brings little energy into culture. Just read something that brings a little energy to culture because let’s face it. I didn’t have it to start the thing. If we can define it and talk about what it is, maybe it’ll boost the energy of the word and help people build theirs. That is an aspirational, very aspirational. Let’s see if we can do it.
J: I know exactly how to do it. I’m going to tell you that culture eats strategy for breakfast now. Somebody already said that a long time ago, although it’s true. Although it doesn’t really eat any of it, it’s a metaphor- a really good metaphor. I’m going to tell you that culture is behavior.
J: That did not have the effects or excitement I was hoping for. I’m so sorry I gave it a shot. What are you going to say about it?
C: So we love Seth Godin’s definition of culture, which is People Like Us do things like this. And it’s also our favorite definition of behavior. It’s just what you do, you do every single day and whether you created it on purpose or you are less intentional about it. What you do every day creates the environment and your people working, and it creates what it feels like to work in your company. So we say a lot. It’s never going to drift toward greatness if you want it to feel great to work there. You need to be intentional about expressing and setting expectations on how we behave. And you need to be aggressive and intentional with people and talk to people. If they’re behaving in ways that are creating a culture that you don’t want people like us, doing things like that doesn’t feel so great, right? So this, this intentionality of behavior. Behavior is such a weird word because “What is behavior?” But it’s what you do. We work with teams all the time that are trying to improve their culture, and we spend a lot of time trying to get them to even see their behaviors because A fish feels water last. It’s an old Chinese proverb, and when I work with teams on fixing their culture, I’m like, what does that mean? It’s like it’s hard to see your behavior. It is hard to see what you do it sometimes. If you’re not paying attention, it’s hard to see how your behavior impacts others as we invite them to do that. If someone were watching a movie, what would they see you do?
J: Maybe that’s why culture is so boring. Because if someone actually watched what I saw and what I did all day long, it would be very boring. It would not just be a very interesting movie. So if this is, I think part of the struggle is, it’s not just what we do occasionally with that. We, you know, when we are intentionally trying to showcase our culture, it’s not just what we put on the poster. It is truly that day-by-day behaviors that we have that’s actually what defines our culture. And so that means a leader’s behavior. I should say everyone’s responsibility inside an organization, everyone has some responsibility and culture, but a leader’s responsibility is elevated. Leaders need to pay attention to what those everyday behaviors are. And it can be really hard because we want to spend most of our days at work. I’m guessing if you’re like me, you’d rather spend your time. I’m talking about what you’re doing. Then how we work together, like how we work together, becomes sort of like it feels time-wasting, and I work with teams all the time, we both do work with teams all the time to take some time out to talk about how we work together. Like what to get above it all, and look at team behaviors. Pat Lencioni was famous for saying it’s a difference between smart vs. healthy. You know, smart is all the what you’re working on, you know? It’s the things you’re producing, it’s the problems you’re solving, it’s your finances, your strategy or marketing, your operations, all of those sorts of things. And healthy is all the minimal politics and low turnover, and it’s the how much trust you have right.
C: I love what he said in that work. I’ve yet to see an organization that wasn’t smart enough. And that, when you really let that sink in, we are so hungry to stay smart enough to have the best technologies, to have the smartest scientist to have, whatever you’re smart enough. What’s making you successful or not is how you treat each other. What’s it feel like to work there. People like us do things like this, and that actually starts with the leader. So we tolerate what we accept. What is the standard we set?
J: It’s the great multiplier for all of the things that you are trying to accomplish. So, maybe it’s not terribly interesting. But it is when we talk about it. Let’s be honest. Invite us in, and we’ll turn this into nothing but FUN. Maybe it takes some real effort, though, to take a step back and take a look at how you work as much as you working and obsessing about what you are doing. All right, hopefully, we’ve added some clarity. Applause, applause. Yeah, I knew that was coming. So, that’s all we’ve got for this episode of Shotcast, but we always have much more to say. So if you want more, please drop us a line at slingshot25.com. Until next time…