The 5 Tools Insentra has given me to Change Organisational Culture
Before working at Insentra I had spent a large portion of my working life in the Hospitality Industry. An industry notorious for demanding hours, even more, demanding customers and all hours staff drinks. I have seen both the positives and negatives of working in such a volatile and fast-paced industry. One thing I am beginning to learn is that regardless of what industry I work in, the happiness in a workplace can be boiled down to one thing – self-worth. If each individual feels like they are an important and valued team member who is genuinely cared about by their colleagues and importantly their manager then the workplace culture by default will be a positive one.
In my previous roles, this feeling of self-worth amongst myself and my colleagues was brought about by luck. It was created because the hospitality environment is so fast-paced that if you don’t fit the team you don’t survive. What this creates are teams of people with very similar personalities and similar ideas. This works well in a dictatorship but, if you set in place some guidelines you can have a great organisational culture regardless of the diversity of personalities and ideas. It is this friction of competing thought sparks great ideas and sets extraordinary organisations apart from the ordinary. So here are a few things I have learnt from Insentra that can help ensure an outstanding company culture where each individual feels as valuable as the other.
1. Set a Clear Vision/Goal
At Insentra we like to use the analogy that our organisation Is like a train, and Ronnie as the CEO is the driver. The crew aboard the train shovel coal which can sometimes be hard work – it gets dirty and hot. To keep the crew shovelling, they need a why. A clear vision of their purpose that reminds them why we do what we do every day…
“Our vision is to be the number one channel services company on the planet. We do this by being the best version of ourselves, creating an outstanding environment for our team, loving the work we do and amazing each other and our clients in every way. We are and always will be partner obsessed.”
This first step is the most important because it’s the collective understanding of the mutual purpose that brings the organisation together. This collective purpose attracts the right people, keeps them motivated when things get tough and ensures everyone is heading in the same direction.
2. Seek to understand before being understood
No one should be afraid to raise issues if they have them or to ask questions if they don’t understand another person point of view. It also reminds the team that if someone says something they don’t agree with to first try to empathise with them before judging them. So, if someone is saying or doing something that we don’t like, let’s understand why they’re saying it. Where does it come from? Can we help them through that? Can we make their journey easier? It is often through seeking to understand that we grow, and learn from those around us and become becoming the best versions of themselves. After all, no one is always right.
By empowering the team to give and receive feedback, Insentra is proving that corporate culture will scale as our organisation grows if feedback loops are kept open. At insentra, we have no closed offices. If the CEO is at his desk I can walk up to him and ask him a question, and that is the same for all of the executives. If you don’t like something, chances are someone else is thinking the same way and the only way to fix it is by telling someone.
My favourite thing about the culture at Insentra is that everyone genuinely cares about how everyone is doing in both their personal and professional lives. This habit begins at the start of every meeting with two simple questions; How are you 1-10 personally? How are you 1-10 at work? If you are a three out of ten personally, it is not expected for you to share why you are a three. This allows the people around you to be more understanding of the mood you may be in, and if you need it they can give you moral support.
What I’ve found is, it stops the “What the fuck is their problem?” thought that you have when someone just seems to be in a bad mood. This forum allows the person to vent if they need it and allows others to give the person more space because shit happens in our personal lives all the time. This also empowers us to help others and reminds us that one day it may be us who need help.
There is another side to this coin, that allows people to reflect on how they are feeling within the business. In this case, if anyone is a 7 or less professionally it’s a red flag for the leadership team. The Insentra team know that we can’t be 10’s all the time, however, if someone is less than a 7 professionally it is escalated to ensure the person is back on track to be an 8, 9 or 10 in the near future.
In bars, we would have staff parties, and after-work drinks. You could always see how much closer the team was after a celebration. At Insentra we take every opportunity to celebrate each other, and ourselves as it is vital moving forward that we stop and celebrate all the great work that we have done. It can be as small as a shout out email, the monthly awards or our Insentra birthday party. It is the tradition of celebration that brings the team together and lifts up the individual, making them feel valued amongst their peers.
5. Be flexible
This is probably the most misunderstood part of creating a good corporate culture. Often Culture evangelists will say to have the great corporate culture you must do this, or you must have that. One that I hear most often is “we are going to make it mandatory that you cant do emails after 7 pm or before 9” or “On Fridays, everyone is to stop their work for a 30-minute yoga session”. Whilst this makes sense if it suits you, it could be like punishment if it is something that you don’t enjoy or that doesn’t suit your lifestyle. At Insentra, the focus is on output, not input, so basically, this allows you the flexibility to live a balanced life and also achieve your professional goals in a way that suits you.
These 5 principles that I’ve learnt at Insentra will come with me through the rest of my career. If you can’t remember all of this then just remember this, if you empower those around you to be the best version of the person they want to be, then they will give you back 10 times what you could do for yourself.