Cookie-cutter – never the right approach.

Some entities like to tout the fact that they have a company culture.  Great.  Culture is good when it fosters an openness and an inclusion for every kind of personality and work-style.  Of course, there are values that your company culture will aspire to that won’t change, like honesty and integrity.  But concurrently, there should exist ways where those that don’t exactly fit “the mould” are given opportunities to shine.

I did work for one agency that very much expressed the value of “speaking up.”  That is all you heard from the day you started was, “SPEAK UP.”  Unfortunately, what that did was encourage those that liked hearing themselves speak (all the time) to talk over everyone else and to talk often.  Even if what they were saying was a repeat of what they said in a prior meeting or didn’t really make sense, they spoke up.  Stranger yet was that they were continually praised even when there was not much substance to their contribution.  “SPEAK UP” became hollow. It was a hallway joke.

There were some co-workers that were great at their job and provided more value, pound for pound.  Their personality style was more introverted and they continually rated lower on the performance scale.  Something had to change.  Eventually, we found ways to enable these more quiet co-workers to stand out, which in turn gave them the confidence to speak up.  This opening up meant promotions, raises, and high-profile opportunities for some that had languished unnoticed for a long time.  The cookie-cutter way had been broken once and for all.  When good people are given a range of opportunities to step up – they will.

Ask yourself, do you have a company set of core values that are complete enough to create an environment of growth and challenge for all?  Are these values measured by substance?Whatever your answer is, take time to reflect.  Culture/Values need periodic re-evaluation to ensure positive alignment with your people and your mission.