Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A “No Friends” Culture

I recently met a young entrepreneur who had opened his business about a year ago and was very pleased with the momentum his business was showing. His revenue growth was exceeding his projections, he was making inroads into new customers who held great potential for future sales, and he had moved into new office space that would accommodate significant planned future growth.

Yet, as we talked I could not help but notice the underlying tone of concern in his voice. The concern didn’t seem to match everything else I was hearing about his business. Digging deeper with my questions, his concern finally rose to the surface. It seemed that he was very concerned about the culture of his new company. He had a very specific culture in mind but was very unclear about how to integrate his desired culture into his growing organization.

What kind of culture did he want?

He wanted a culture where people worked hard and where they were very clear about their responsibilities and the responsibilities of the other members of the team. He wanted his team to work together efficiently to resolve issues with customers and vendors without having to rely on his personal intervention. He wanted skilled and competent people in his organization that would require minimum direction from him on a daily basis. But most of all, he wanted people who would not be friends with each other.

He went on to explain, “I’ve seen these companies where people do things together. They go out after work and have a drink. They socialize outside the office with a bowling or softball team. They have birthday parties in the office for different staff members, go to lunch together, have summer picnics and cookouts, and then there is the annual holiday party. I don’t want that. I don’t want any of that. I just want them to work together quickly, efficiently, and in a business-like manner. Can I create a culture like that?”

I won’t go into depth about his reasoning for creating this type of culture. I’ll just say that he is a very private person and draws a clear separation between his personal and professional lives. And he wanted his team to be the same way. A huge personal fear for him was that his team would become too social in the office and want to include him in their activities. He didn’t want to socialize with his team members inside the office or outside the office. And he knew that the more people he hired, the more challenging this would become for him.

“How can I make sure that I get the kind of culture in the office that I really want?” he asked.

The good news is that you can create any type of culture that you want in your organization. And an office of highly efficient, dedicated people who leave their personal lives at the door is really not unheard of. But the key to making sure that you have the culture you really want in your company is to clearly define your needs and expectations from the beginning.

“Define exactly the kind of culture you want in your office,” I told him. “Be clear and specific about your expectations with potential employees before you hire them. Let them know what you expect from them and what they should expect at work. Then hire the people whose expectations are in line with yours. But, here is the key. You MUST define the culture yourself right up front. If you don’t define the culture yourself, your employees will define it for you. And you might not like the culture they bring to your team.”

Now, here is the question for the readers:

Would you want to work in an organization that was clear and specific about NOT wanting social activities among team members inside or outside of the office?

I’ll gather the responses and post them in a few weeks. I expect the results may surprise a few people.

At ECI Learning Systems LLC, we are dedicated to helping companies get the greatest return from their most valuable asset: their employees. We work with you to align 3 key organizational factors:
• Your Company Culture
• The Leadership Styles of your key managers
• The Expectations of your Employees

When these 3 factors are aligned, you create an energy in your company that improves productivity, reduces absenteeism, increases creativity, and positively impacts your bottom line. Contact ECI Learning Systems LLC today to get your free Workplace Evaluation.

Until next time.....

Dave Meyer
ECI Learning Systems, LLC

1 comment:

  1. Dave,

    Good Post. This young man reminds me of someone I knew. He believed that personal and business lives should never intersect. What he discovered was that when he allowed business associates in and connected at a more personal level several things occurred. First, he was more productive, (people like to do business with people that like them). Second, his work became more fulfilling because he was delivering his work to people he cared about and they were grateful and the cycle begins.

    Now to your question, No I would not want to work in that culture. I was that young man and life gets better the more you are able to integrate your personal and business life.

    Happy Holiday to you my friend