In recent months we’ve all been exposed to our fair share of medical jargon – from pandemics and PPE to antibodies and active cases. While I’m sure we’re all so tired of hearing about COVID-19 and everything that goes along with it, all of this talk got me thinking about an interview author and successful businesswoman, Arianna Huffington, gave a few years ago where she described company culture as being the organisation’s immune system.
“Bad behaviour is like a virus,” she said. “We’re not going to eliminate viruses in the same way we’re not going to completely eliminate bad behaviour. But a healthy culture can surface the problems before they spread.” From a medical perspective, your immune system’s job to protect you from things like bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins. When it comes to business, your company culture should function in the same way – protecting you from any external threats. Winning companies with strong corporate cultures are extra careful when recruiting staff because they want to employ people who boost, participate in and embrace their company culture. If they accidentally hire the wrong person, they’ll be able to see very quickly that the individual is not the right fit.
Leading by example
As a leader, you need to think of yourself as a brand ambassador. How you treat people and how your work needs to align with your company culture because this ultimately filters down to each and every member of your business. If the person at the top deviates from the company’s values, the people working below you will follow suit.
When interviewing potential employees, I don’t focus too much on work experience or skills. Instead, I ask questions that show me how they handle challenges, what they value and how they think about the world around them. These questions reveal what kind of person the candidate is and tells me whether or not they’re a good match for the business.
I’ve said this before, but culture goes beyond team building and drinks on a Friday afternoon. It’s about finding people who gel with your organisation and who have ideals, values and a work ethic that aligns with your business objectives. This doesn’t mean that team building isn’t important or effective. It can be but only if your chosen team building exercise teaches you something and helps your team to grow and work together more successfully. This sort of experience also teaches us about our strengths and weaknesses so that we can leverage what we’re good at and find ways to cover our bases so that we aren’t held back by our weaknesses.
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