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Company Culture: Everything for a smile

Company Culture: Everything for a smile

  • 25 April 2018
  • Posted by Marcella Bremer

Culture is everywhere where people get together. You don't need to be a co-worker: sometimes you even have a better vantage point as a visitor or a client.

Over the past weeks, I've had many encounters with small companies as a client. As we were rebuilding and furnishing our vacation home we were working side by side with our contractor's employees who tiled the kitchen and bathroom, installed the appliances, rewired the electricity, and so on. Next, I met the boys of the delivery services transporting the new beds and other things that we bought online.

Even though I was busy with the start of the online Positive Culture Academy and various culture projects I traveled to the house whenever possible to paint the walls, take out old floors, and so on. I'd arrive to find the house in a huge mess, radio blaring, and the tiler working hard. Even though he was busy he was very helpful. He gave me advice on my painting job, carried heavy loads up the stairs and asked permission to use my coffee machine. It felt like I had another colleague. I felt supported.

Helpful people-orientation

His boss, the contractor, explained that he'd instructed all employees to be helpful. He said: "The problem doesn't matter but the solution does. All my people will do their best to solve issues, serve clients and leave them feeling good.

The contractor did the same as he instructed his men (sorry, only men working here): he regularly stopped by to see his clients and employees, gave advice, offered help, and asked for continuous feedback.

When asked, he explained that he selected his clients (the market is booming so he can be picky). He only worked for people who were referred to him by other clients and contacts. If a prospect found him via the Internet he wouldn't take their assignment. Why? Because he didn't know that prospect.

The referrals guaranteed the contractor that the client was known in his network and probably reliable, solvent, and friendly to his staff. In other words: sharing the same culture.

What's your take on this contractor's culture type? I noticed the people-oriented Collaborate culture but also a dose of flexible, open-to-learn Create culture. They were very solution-oriented, not just technically, but also in other aspects. (See this blog post for a description of the OCAI culture types).

Busy saving yourself

The electrician wasn't the contractor's employee but from another small company. He was running in and out, always forgetting things and having to go back to the store. He left a trail of used package material, dirt, and excuses. He wasn't working with or for me, but for himself. He stopped by when it suited him and when he left he didn't say goodbye. I felt irritation as I couldn't rely on him. I acknowledge that he meant well and he was probably working too hard and dealing with many urgencies as he was a plumber too. His boss gave him too much work. I guess they had a results-oriented Compete culture, combined with the "shadow side" of Create culture (too chaotic).

When the beds were delivered (from 2 different companies), culture showed up on my doorstep again. The first delivery guys were stressed and rude. They didn't want to carry the bed to the master bedroom on the first floor as this wasn't part of the deal. They simply refused, left the bed standing in the garden and drove off in a hurry.

Service and kindness

The second delivery consisted of the beds for the guest rooms. These guys were busy as well, it was late on a Friday and they were behind schedule because of traffic jams. When I asked if they could help me carry the beds upstairs they responded that that service wasn't included, but... I didn't have any cash to tip them so I told them upfront. It's okay, they said and took the beds upstairs. That was kindness on a Friday afternoon after a long week at work!

The appliance guys arrived in a van that said: "Everything for a smile". They installed the washing machine and dryer, showed how they worked and gave me some extra tips. Then they started the empty washing machine for a first refreshing round and asked what else they could do for me. They took all the package material and didn't leave until I had confirmed that I was completely content. I smiled when they drove off. That was excellent service and they were obviously well-trained to do this job well.

The people I liked best? Those who were busy but took time to help me nevertheless. Does that have to do with character? Not necessarily.Most behaviors are passed on by the copy-coach-correct mechanism in groups. If one person is cranky, they can have a bad day. But if it happens more often, and more colleagues act the same way, you bet it is copied in the culture! My contractor consciously builds a people-oriented positive culture and selects clients that fit his company.

What would your clients see? What could you improve?

Would you like to learn more about how to develop a more positive culture? Then attend the Culture Change Leadership workshop on 24-26 September! We’ll work on how to use the OCAI, guide culture change, and create a more positive culture at work. The super saver is valid until April 28 so do not wait any longer. We have limited seats to ensure time and attention for all participants to work on their cases and questions. Let’s create more positive organizations!

© Marcella Bremer, 2018. All rights reserved.