What I Have Learned About Culture From Working At A Best Place To Work

Culture is an interesting topic and one that can’t be addressed in a simple how-to guide. As with most important areas of life, setting and developing an organisation’s culture requires courage to create a vision most believe is not possible, courage to keep going even when there are challenges and a deep love for the people involved even when they may not be the most lovable.

I have always been fortunate to belong in organisations with a great culture but it wasn’t until I started working with Insentra that I realised the level of dedication, work and commitment of resources required for creating an amazing culture. I hope the lessons below will assist and empower you make a profound impact and to be part of a great culture no matter what position you hold within your workplace.

Culture Starts from the Top but is Everyone’s Responsibility.

I have worked for some awesome leaders, Tony Robbins being one of them. In the past I always believed culture was as a result of the leader and ultimately the responsibility of the leader. I thought the reason I was able to work in such great cultures was down to their being a great leader. I almost took a passive role when it came to being part of the organisations culture because I believed the leader would take care of it… oh how I was wrong.

Although a leader may set the culture, we are all responsible for making sure that culture sticks and improves. If you find yourself or any of your colleagues complaining or behaving in ways that bring a negative vibe you may want to ask yourself is this really the type of workplace I want to be a part of? As the saying goes it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch.

We have a policy at Insentra of no bitching, complaining or playing below the line. Of course, if we have something that needs resolving we have avenues to address the issue but bitching and complaining and doing nothing about it is not tolerated. The best bit is, its not tolerated by the team. People are not shy calling each other out if bitching starts to take place.

Culture must be defined and redefined as an organisation grows

Often it’s easy to get stuck in a rut and culture is no different. I remember working for a company with an outstanding culture but once the business grew by a few hundred people the culture started to change; and not in a good way. Unfortunately, nothing was done to address why the change had occurred because the general attitude was, ‘that was the good old days’ and ‘you can’t expect it to be this good with this many people’.

One thing that amazes me about working at Insentra is each year we look at our company culture and redefine how we want it to be. This activity is done company-wide at our annual all team offsite. Most organisations will do this with a select group of their senior executives at best, but our CEO Ronnie Altit believes that everyone plays a part in determining the culture of the place they work.  Although the fundamentals of our culture remain the same, the way in which we ensure our culture is maintained changes as we grow. Last year we developed a ‘stay on track’ document to help set a standard around what it meant to live our vision and values and this year…. Well I’ll have to come back to you after our next offsite on May 4 (Star Wars themed of course!).

Cultural Fit Determines if a Person is Hired (or not)

As mentioned above, an organisations culture is based on the people. It’s easy to look at a candidate to assess their skill level and ability to get the job done however this can sometimes be done at the expense of the impact the person will make on culture. We have a policy that if a person doesn’t fit culturally it doesn’t matter how brilliant they are technically, they are not hired. When hiring a new team member our CEO asks a lot of key questions to unpack whether a person fits culturally. These questions include:

  1. What makes you get out of bed enthused to go to work? What makes you roll over and go back to sleep?
  2. What were the things at your last place of work that drove you insane? What did you love?
  3. Tell me a time you had a problem with a team member. How did you deal with it?
  4. Culture is crucially important to us, what questions do you have about our culture? (this is intended to determine how engaged a person is with organisational culture. The answer… ‘ummmmmmm nothing’ doesn’t instill confidence)
  5. You’ve read the train story (our company manifesto of what our culture is all about), what stood out for you? And why?

I hope these three lessons help you to create an amazing workplace culture and remember it doesn’t matter what your role is or what level you sit within an organisation, you matter, and you can positively (or negatively) impact the outcome of your workplace culture. As Ghandi said, ‘be the change you want to see in the world’