Teamwork Posters on the Wall

“Our culture?” Miguel stopped. “Well, there is the official story, and then there is the truth.”

I smiled. “Well, we all know the story is better than the truth.”

“Yeah, I know,” Miguel continued. “I mean, we try hard. We got the company mission statement posted by the front door. We got the teamwork posters on the wall. We have an employee newsletter, but you know, morale is still in the dumpster.”

“What do you think is the problem?”

“Don’t know. We try to get everybody on board, but the enthusiasm just isn’t there. It’s like they just don’t believe what a great place this is.”

“Who decided it was such a great place?” I asked.

Miguel was puzzled. “What do you mean, nobody really decided.”

“That’s the point. We, as managers, have manufactured the things you describe as culture. The mission statement looks like it came from some Mission Statement book. The teamwork posters were bought out of a catalogue. I have read your employee newsletter and all it talks about is how to make changes in your 401(k) plan and make a claim in the health insurance program. You have the tools to create and communicate your culture, but you are not using them.

“The biggest tool you have is participation. People will support a workplace they help to make.”

So, I am curious. How does your organization get people to participate in the creation of elements you would describe as culture? Please post a comment. -TF

3 thoughts on “Teamwork Posters on the Wall

  1. Yashima

    I know what you are talking about. In my workplace there is nothing really where I can participate in constructing the “culture”, I believe it was that way before the company grew too fast.

    In another way, I have the manager’s problem as leader of a World of Warcraft guild. I thought about it a few weeks ago, how much easier it would be to motivate people to participate if they identified more with the guild and I thought the best way to get them to identify themselves with the guild is help create our guild culture as you put it.

    Now my problem is that I cannot quite get my officers to support me with this endeavour. As so often my officers don’t have a lot of time, they don’t see this as important and I cannot get them to participate in making the effort to involve our members. They sometimes seem to ignore my ideas. I always explain and I ask them questions but more often then not, I don’t get an answer and it seems they are too lazy to think about these ideas.

    So it seems there is trouble on two levels: one is the members. I see that and I see some solutions to that. But how do I involve my officers to help me put these solutions forward? I am always guessing since it is simply a game they just rather complain about something than accept that there is a problem that could be solved.

  2. Cynthia Clay

    Organizations try mightily to establish a culture through vision and mission statements, posting their values on the walls, etc. And that’s not necessarily bad. But most employees smell a rat when they realize that the leaders themselves don’t embody the very elements they’re trying to create in the culture.
    My husband joined a start-up company a few years back and I was so impressed to see the values of “family and work/life balance” posted on the walls of the conference room. After repeated deadlines that forced his team to work all night, I grew increasingly cynical about this value. The culture that was created was completely different than the culture that was proclaimed. Like everyone else, I “got” the real culture based on personal experience.

  3. Tom Foster

    Thank you for your comments. There are many reasons why people either don’t think culture is important or that the “official” culture is BS. Read on tomorrow.


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