Culture Versus Morale: How To Avoid A Common Trap

Feb 6 2014, 1:41pm CST | by

Culture Versus Morale: How To Avoid A Common Trap

In far too many outlets and at water-cooler discussions, people discuss “culture” in the workplace, especially at startup workplaces, incorrectly. Most people, in referencing culture, think of a “rah rah” grouping of employees, hugs, laid-back vibe and dress code, maybe free perks – our office has popcorn and slushies – or even a weekly happy hour outing. All of this stuff is great, but it’s not culture. These elements can be fun and enjoyable – I don’t want to be a Scrooge here – but they’re not accurate when culture is the main point up for debate. These factors contribute to a strong morale. The distinction between culture and morale can sometimes be blurry, so let’s talk about what culture is – and how a strong sense of it within your team can impact your performance, and thus, boost morale.

Culture should be viewed as the Operating System for your company, because it’s characterized by the things you do and repeat on a regular basis. Your decision-making process that you employ regularly reflects the priorities that you emphasize, along with the philosophy and values you deem important and want employees to uphold. As a result, the things that you measure (or neglect to measure) on a regular basis fit into this overall framework as well.

For example, the world knows (and loves) Zappos for its superior customer service. That’s a priority to them as a team and the leadership staff prides itself on their ability to sustain such a high standard of excellence; they’ve achieved this by valuing and prioritizing the value of self-expression. This key principle for them is the component of the Operating System that is the “Zappos Culture,” which in turn is exemplified by the antics reported the world over: an annual yearbook, to which every employee contributes, or the desk-decorating frenzy throughout the floors of their office. Each person is encouraged to express himself, which translates to self-confidence and self-empowerment to help clients get their issues resolved, right away without question, in their own style. To be clear, the crazy desks and the awesome yearbook are wonderful, but they’re not culture – they’re simply the vehicle to reinforce the element of culture that does matter to Zappos: self-expression. What values would you want to emphasize at your company? Figure that out first, and then think of the fun, quirky way to drive that message home – not the other way around.

A great way to reinforce cultural values is through the implementation of regular habits or rituals. A great example of this has been utilized by The Ritz Carlton. Every shift, at every property in the company, the entire staff of each hotel gathers for their “Daily Lineup.” This tradition was borrowed by the Ritz, from the early days of luxury French restaurants, when the executive chef would gather the staff to go over the day’s menu to make sure everyone was on the same page and could provide the same messaging. The staff at the Ritz uses the same theory to make sure that all staff members are clued into anything out of the ordinary taking place, and to share “wow” moments with one another. When someone has noticed a fellow employee do something above and beyond the call of duty for a guest, they can tell the group of the peer’s efforts. Two notes are important here: the first is that the group gathers daily, so the regimentation of this allows for an expectation from staff and serves as reinforcement that this meeting is critically important. The second is that a standard of excellence for staff to their guests is rewarded – this cultural value is a priority and is given credence because it’s an agenda item at this critically important, regularly held meeting.

Every company’s priorities and values are different – they need to be uniquely yours and help carve out your niche in the world. However, the most obvious way to keep morale at your company high is by setting a cultural expectation of winning, through a standard of accountability. When the company’s team can believe in the mission and each person feels like she’s contributing to the overall goal, then your cultural values will be easily upheld, and morale will be higher than ever. This doesn’t necessarily mean everything will be rosy every day, but putting wins up on your scoreboard and maintaining a pattern of high performance keeps everyone with their eyes on the prize as part of something bigger than themselves. When that’s the case, your culture will be a strong foundation – a true Operating System – upon which you can grow.

For an inside view into my world as a VC, entrepreneur, author, and keynote speaker, visit JoshLinkner.com.

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Spanish health worker to return after possible Ebola contagion
Madrid, Nov 21 (IANS) A Spanish health worker, associated with the "Doctors without Borders", (Medecins San Frontiers) will be flown back home from Mali, Friday after a possible Ebola contagion.
 
 
US military may extend anti-Ebola mission in West Africa
Washington, Nov 21 (IANS) The US military may extend its mission to combat the spread of Ebola in West Africa beyond six months, if there was a surge of new cases.
 
 
Britain fastest growing G7 economy: OECD
London, Nov 21 (IANS) Britain has the fastest growing economy among the G7 group of developed nations, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported Thursday.
 
 
WhatsApp behind half of Italian divorce cases: Attorney group
Rome, Nov 20 (IANS) Almost half of the divorce cases in Italy rely at least in part on information gathered through the instant messaging service WhatsApp, according to the Italian Association of Matrimonial Lawyers.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Mark Wahlberg's wife compares him to Harry Styles
Mark Wahlberg's wife thinks he looks like an older Harry Styles. Rhea Durham - who has been married to the 'Ted' star since 2009 - is pleased he is cutting off his locks for charity so he doesn't resemble an older...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Beyonce 'rescued' sister's wedding
Beyonce Knowles ''rescued'' her sister's wedding. Solange tied the knot with videographer Alan Ferguson last Sunday (11.16.14) but the nuptials nearly resulted in a disaster when the 'Losing You' hitmaker reacted badly...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Spanish health worker to return after possible Ebola contagion
Madrid, Nov 21 (IANS) A Spanish health worker, associated with the "Doctors without Borders", (Medecins San Frontiers) will be flown back home from Mali, Friday after a possible Ebola contagion. According to the...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Jack Johnson Files for Bankruptcy
Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson has filed for bankruptcy.According to Aaron Portzline of The Columbus Dispatch, Johnson has earned $18 million during his 10-year NHL career. However, almost all of it is...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
Reeves to star in Tarsem Singh's 'The Panopticon'?
Los Angeles, Nov 21 (IANS) Actor Keanu Reeves is said to be in negotiations to star in film "The Panopticon" under the direction of Tarsem Singh. "The Matrix" actor is in talks with Good Universe to take on the lead...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
US military may extend anti-Ebola mission in West Africa
Washington, Nov 21 (IANS) The US military may extend its mission to combat the spread of Ebola in West Africa beyond six months, if there was a surge of new cases. "We have to be prepared for this to go longer than...
Read more on Business Balla
 
World must recognise threat of terrorism: Bashar al-Assad
Damascus, Nov 21 (IANS) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that international acknowledgment of the threats of terrorism is one of the factors determining the future of the region. Addressing the members of the...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Protests over missing students turn violent in Mexico
Mexico City, Nov 21 (IANS/EFE) Protests over the abduction and apparent killing of 43 students in Mexico turned violent Thursday, as protesters blocked roads and hurled crude bombs at the police. The protests happened...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
When Knightley feared being fired from 'Pirates ...'
Los Angeles, Nov 21 (IANS) Actress Keira Knightley says she feared being fired from the"Pirates of the Caribbean" film. Knightley took on the role of Elizabeth Swan in the movie, and it was the film that catapulted...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Committed to defend all our allies: NATO secretary-general
Riga, Nov 21 (IANS) NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg Thursday said that the alliance is committed to protect every member country. Stoltenberg reiterated NATO's commitment following his meeting with Latvian...
Read more on Politics Balla