I spend a lot of time at work. I love my job and I try to give it 100 percent every day which means it ends up occupying a big chunk of my life. And because my team and clients are like a second family to me, it’s important for the hours I spend with them to be enjoyable and productive.
When we talk about corporate culture, conversations quickly turn to talking about snack drawers, ping-pong tables and couches; or how organizations are scrambling to avoid a reputation as a stressful, Machiavellian workplace environment. While these ingredients indeed contribute to an overall corporate culture, they don’t completely reflect the 8-10 hours each day we spend indoors in close proximity to other people.
Corporate culture is an organic, dynamic energy that starts with core principles set forth by company leadership and are continually nurtured, shaped and amplified by every member of the team. The result is a place where those whose internal values align with the culture are most likely to thrive — whether it’s a healthy environment or not. When it’s done right, it’s positive and supportive and when it’s not it can be like Lord of the Flies in fancier clothes.
Other companies may have different approaches, but at The Fearey Group we are succeeding by focusing on three pillars of positive culture creation:
- Hire for your culture. Of course every company wants to retain top talent. But in addition to the obvious objective of fostering an environment for longevity and growth, it’s important to present the company and its culture as honestly and comprehensively as possible when hiring to ensure a good match. And because culture is something to which everyone contributes, every individual we hire needs to be a good fit, not just in the way their skillset meets a need, but in the way they mesh with their tablemates. People tend to stay where they’re happy, and part of being happy is having a sense of belonging.
- No jerks allowed policy. I love a big personality. I might even have one. But the difference between having strong opinions and a caustic, contagious negative influence is huge. We’ve all known them, and they can even charm their way into the group. But once identified, the momentary pain of extracting them is well worth the long-term boost your team will get by having them gone. Drama, hushed conversations and passive aggression are all indicators of trouble in your midst. Don’t wait — it doesn’t take long for a bad apple to do its thing.
- Guidelines are better than rules. In a healthy culture, general work ethic and appreciation for best practices are intrinsically shared by all. A community focused on its own best good creates a positive feedback loop that builds cooperation and quietly discourages unproductive behavior. For example, we have Slack channel dedicated to informal ‘where are you’ status updates to empower our team to always be courteous and respectful of each other’s time. This works so much better than a consequence-based approach and puts accountability in the hands of the staff. People bring their A-game not because we are trying to scare them into it, but because transparency matters.
The Fearey Group strives to be an enjoyable place to work, promoting an environment of teamwork, support and autonomy. In the past two years, we’ve made a conscious effort to update our team space to reflect this desire. We moved offices — a change that included transitioning from closed-door offices to an open floor plan — and to support the growth of the firm and the needs of our clients, have grown our staff by 45 percent. As our company changes it’s important for us to preserve and encourage what’s great about working here.
As we continue to grow it will be important to continue to be clear about who we are and what we stand for. We are eager to become an example of a company that listens, values and adjusts where necessary to get us where we want to be.
Our workplaces are not just where we work, they’re a living embodiment of who we are. The culture we create lives in everything we do — and it doesn’t just affect our workplace, it affects our work – and our lives outside of work.
Remember, you like your office for the same reasons your clients do. So show up, do good work, have some fun and just be awesome!