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Posts tagged ‘Culture’

Concept Creep & the Buzzword Arms Race

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the words we use for important ideas about work ‘diffuse’ over time, and all the problems this creates. Like a game of telephone, as an idea spreads its initial meaning gets refracted through each receiver, who stamps it with her own experience before passing it on. What starts out as a clear concept gets muddier and muddier over time.

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Beneath the Veneer

Everyone wants to improve their brand. Hardly anyone wants to improve themselves.

I get it. I love to exercise, but will be the first to admit that buying workout clothes is more fun than actually getting myself to the gym. Writing about having difficult conversations is infinitely more enjoyable than actually having them. Talking about your great company culture is much simpler than figuring out how to make sure it lives up to your description every day.

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Civility at Work: Should We Just Do It?

The costs of incivility in the workplace are easily felt, though perhaps harder to quantify. Calls for civility then, a common refrain lately in and out of the workplace, seem like common sense. But is that definitely the case?

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Tell Me About It…

It’s a bright, shiny new year, and the world has been given a fresh start. Good thing too, since we really need a do-over after 2017. But underneath the flurry of optimistic resolutions and ardent promises to eat better and exercise, we’d be wise to remember the lessons that we hadn’t quite yet absorbed from 2017 before the holidays began and forcibly turned over a new page for us all.

The HR profession seems to have found its voice on sexual harassment, and if the slew of upcoming events and panels are any indication, lots of us want to use it. I hope we will remember that the voices we need to hear from most are those who have experienced harassment in our organizations.

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When Are Subcultures in Your Organization a Problem?

A major challenge of talking about something as complex as culture is that we have to be reductive to be succinct. Something as layered, nuanced, and invisible would take ages to accurately convey (if we could even put it into words), but often, we try to distill it into a soundbite. A few key words or phrases that we think make our organization distinct from the average company.

“Keep learning. Explore crazy ideas”

“The Customer is Not Always Right”

“Warrior Spirit; Servant’s Heart, Fun-luving Attitude” (Note: Guys, I just found out these are actually Southwest Airlines’ values and I can’t even)

Although most organizations talk about their cultures as being unique and monolithic (that is, consistent throughout the organization, which is often an unstated assumption underlying the practice of hiring for ‘culture fit’), this is rarely the case.

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Why HR Should Talk Less About Culture

This week an old post of mine, HR’s Sloppy Thinking About Culture, was shared on LinkedIn and then Twitter (thank you very much Simon Jones and Rob Briner). Once I got over the initial shock that five years have passed since I wrote it, it seemed like a good opportunity to revisit the topic of organizational culture.

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Why Basically Everyone Fails at Work-Life Balance (& What Bob Sutton Believes)

A weekly post in which I share (some of) the most thought-provoking content I read this week(ish), which I am too lazy to write full blog posts about.

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Startup Scandal? HR is Not the Answer

There’s been a string of startup scandals involving people practices in the news recently, and I’m getting really tired of reading variations on the phrase: “If only they’d had HR….” Every time I come across a headline or a quote that advances this notion, my eyelid starts twitching.

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Generation Nope & the Gender Gap

A weekly post in which I share (some of) the most thought-provoking content I read this week(ish), which I am too lazy to write full blog posts about.

 

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So, You Want to Change Your Culture…

Organizational culture: obsessed over, misunderstood, oversimplified, and scapegoated.

“We need to change our culture”, “That place has such a toxic culture”, “Our culture wouldn’t allow for that” “The real problem is our culture”…

Sound familiar? Whether you’ve heard it at your own organization, or come across a similar premise in one of the many fervent cultural calls-to-action online, it’s clear to me that these days culture is on the operating table. Underlying all these arguments is a sense of urgency, and a belief that culture can and should be engineered, shaped, and managed:

Mold it, control it, strengthen it, change it, or it will change you! Your efforts will mean the difference between culture as organization-limiting obstacle, and culture as critical competitive advantage!

But the sloppy and imprecise way we talk about ‘culture’ also effects our thinking and speech about changing culture, so that we find ourselves awash in popular discourse that basically equates organizational culture change with switching the wallpaper in your house: a real pain in the ass, but nothing that you and a few friends couldn’t get done over a long weekend. Read more