Over the past weeks I have had some builders in the house. Different companies for different purposes. But all in the same environment, with the same people around, working on the same project. There was always the boss and 1 or more co-workers. Yet the atmosphere was completely different.
Laughter, music and hard work
You had one team which came in with full strength, rocking away the work. All while joking around, whistling to music and (well, Corona specialty) wearing their face masks when walking around in the house. The team enjoyed working together and the work they did. They were respected and challenged by their boss, but all in a good-hearted way. When the boss was not present, there was a lot of communication with him over the phone, to be aligned and get the tings done. The boss took care of them. And also for me as a customer it was a joy to watch them do their job. It was had work, but it felt easy and fun. I caught myself thinking: I would not mind, being on their team, life seems good.
Insecurity and save-my-ass attitude
Then I had another team of builders coming in. And here from the beginning, things felt differently. The faces of the builders were closed up, hardly smiles. The boss joined his team at the initial day to discuss what needs to be done and at the final day to ensure that all is finished well. He communicated with his co-worker but mainly very work-related. There was no joy. The boss told me, running a company is nothing he would recommend. And this attitude you could feel also reflected in his team.
The conversations I had with his co-worker were mainly about: “Can you please take a look? This scratch has been here before, it was not me.” When he was alone, he would call his friends or family, when he was with his boss, there was not much talking. It seemed to me that coming to work felt like a duty that had to be done before life could begin afterwards.
Which culture would you prefer?
Both teams did a great job, I am glad about the result. But the culture that the company owners created was completely different and even for me as an outsider obvious. The first team was motivated, thought about clever solutions and was proactive. The other team just executed orders and tried to get the day over. Amazing what you can create in a role as a leader. How much impact you can have on a big part of the life of your employees. Would you also like to work in the first team? Would you like to be challenged and rewarded for the results? I think often culture happens unconsciously but if you are aware and can influence it, it can be magical.