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Culture: You Can’t Fake It

by Greg Crumpton

Some things you can fake. Friends, resumes, GPA’s while in school, et cetera. These things can be, but are often not, fact-checked. Culture is not an item that fits into this category.

What is culture?

It’s the feeling you get in your gut when you hear members of families, companies, clubs or groups discussing the organization when no one knows you’re listening.

Culture is when you see a relatively low-level employee walking through their company’s parking lot and picking up that piece of trash when they think no one is watching.

It’s when you get treated like crap at a store, hotel, state-run agency or God forbid, when you call your very own company from an outside line, and get treated like the general public does.

Note: This is a very inconspicuous and telling way to actually “test” the customer service culture within your company. Go ahead, I dare you to call your company with a simulated problem, it will prove to be a valuable use of time. #Guilty

Remembering back, the word tribal, in a cultural way, was introduced to me when reading a book by Seth Godin called, appropriately enough, Tribes. Culture stems, in a large part, from your tribe. These are the people who you choose to associate with, the folks who you want in the fox hole with you when the shit hits the fan, those that truly “get it”.

Similarly-minded people “working” together (meaning: living, really working, making time to be with one another kind of working) in an environment of common themed ideas. This is where your tribe creates a culture.

Also, don’t forget that all culture is not rainbows and unicorns. If you’re a crack dealer, your tribe probably sells crack and the culture there is probably not one that many of us would want to experience.

This past week I had the wonderful pleasure of seeing Culture in Motion as expressed by a tribe that I would indeed want in the fox hole with me. One of the companies that I am so proud to be affiliated with invited me up to one of their planning sessions. It was my first visit with this group, so round-table style intro’s were on tap.

As the team (and yes, I mean they are a team in executing their mission, I am not speaking in corporate PR-puke in saying team) went around the table, I was wowed by the tenure of these great folks. 41 years of service, 33 years of service, 26 years and on it went. The other cool nugget was that the meeting was being ran by a Bronze Star Medal recipient, Captain Robert Pellegrini.

Why was this such a clarifying moment for me while visiting and learning about the culture within this company? First and foremost, these people wanted to be there.

All of us, most anyway, get to choose where we spend our days. These folks want a company that has long-term stability, takes care of customers, takes care of the employees, that they’re proud to hang their work-hat at. Proud, dedicated and honorable, they work hard every day to have it.

There are many, many examples of culture within your daily circle. Some jump out at you, some are a bit subtler.

Think about the kind young lady who knows that crazy drink you order at your morning coffee-house without having to get anything from you except a nod. The usher that knows that you prefer to sit near the end of the pew versus clear in the middle every Sunday or the way your kids know that you may tell them a story when you get off the road on Friday evening.

It all matters, all the little things that make up our story. Culture is the fabric that weaves our lives together or drives a divisional wedge between us. We can choose to participate and add strength to our tribes by driving an awesome culture or alternatively: you can sit around and wonder why some folks seem so damned happy and engaged versus those that espouse negativity, discontent and angst.

Until next time,

Stay drenched in the positive.

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