An Accidental Culture Tradition is Born
A Culture Is Born
A few weeks ago, my colleague Jamie cut off a 1/3 to 1/2 of her hair. It was a big change, it looked great, and it was recognized by exactly two people in the office (shout out to Erin and Jeremy!). In jest, Jamie mentioned this to me as we were typing away on our computers (we sit diagonal from each other), and I felt somewhat sheepish having recognized the difference but never told her that I thought the change looked good.
Then, upon further reflection, I didn’t feel quite as bad! At the end of January, following an extended vacation, I returned to work having essentially cut off all of my hair, and I don’t recall a single person making note of the change. I hardly thought about it in the moment, but after jogging my memory a bit, I couldn’t remember a single instance of anyone at CultureIQ complimenting a fellow coworker on a nice haircut. I used to do this ALL THE TIME at my last job. Even bad haircuts got the “Looking sharp Larry!” (names changed to protect anonymity) treatment. But having watched others get haircuts without any recognition, I had sub-consciously perpetuated the pattern myself.
I hope you don’t get the wrong idea about CultureIQ from this story– we don’t hoard hair compliments like some form of bizarre interpersonal currency, and I think it’s good that we don’t overemphasize each other’s looks. And really, as far as traditions go, this one is pretty innocuous.
But I bring this up, because these patterns can relate to other parts of culture. For example, what if we were talking about a behavior that has a greater impact on a company’s performance? A nice corollary is the act of sharing new ideas and innovation. This is a quality that we measure at CultureIQ, and it is an important part of any high-performance culture. Like haircuts, not all ideas are going to be great, but as long as you encourage the sharing of ideas and acknowledge each other throughout the process, you’ll inevitably land on a few good ones that will help your business succeed.
You’ll all be happy to learn that we have adjusted our tradition since recognizing this pattern. After having talked about this ridiculous aspect of our culture, we’ve started to play it fast-and-loose with hair compliments over the past two weeks. It’s possible we have even taken it a little too far, but we’re still a young company, and I’m pretty sure we’ll find an equilibrium soon that is just right.
Brady works on the sales team at CultureIQ. He owns a pair of galoshes, but he doesn’t wear them as much as his co-workers claim. He enjoys listening to pod-casts, petting old dogs, and eating granola, but not necessarily in that order… you really shouldn’t eat granola right after petting an old dog.