Culture matters.  Yes, a lot is written about workplace culture these days.  There’s a reason for that:  most places still aren’t getting it.  There are a lot of toxic and harmful cultures out there, leading to employee turnover and lost revenue.  Need a “business case” for why paying attention to your culture is important?  Every time someone leaves your organization you lose money and time. 

What does the culture at Elements Partnership look like?  Let me start by telling you about our core values:

  • We tell the truth.
  • We trust our gut.
  • We make coffee.

But, what do those really mean? 

We tell the truth means that we tell the truth when it’s hard.  In fact, we tell the truth especially when it’s hard.  We don’t just tell you what you want to hear.  We tell the truth from a place of compassion and caring. We tell the truth because we care about your success.

Our second value is “we trust our gut.” Trusting our gut means that we show up with confidence.  We are clear in our purpose.  We often ask people to do things that are uncomfortable for them but we know, in our gut, that they will learn and be changed by the experience.  When we trust our gut we are able to invite people into the learning with a level of confidence that draws people in.

Our final core value is “we make coffee.”  We recognize that some of the most meaningful conversations and life changes happen over coffee (or wine!) with a friend. “We make coffee” is really a metaphor for making sure people have everything they need when they’re in our space.  In our space you will literally have coffee (and a good balance of healthy/junk food) and you will also get the best of us.  We bring warmth, vulnerability, and humor to each of our workshops, knowing that how we show up has a direct impact on the possibilities for others. 

Our company core values are a direct reflection of how we personally show up in the world.  For us, behaving in ways that align with those values is asking us to be us.  If we were people who didn’t believe that taking care of individuals in our space was important, we might be annoyed and frustrated by making coffee, cutting up strawberries and trimming the grapes.  (Yes, that is a thing and yes, we do think about every detail.)  When we hire new people, we need to be able to convey how important our core values are to us so that they can decide for themselves if this is a place they want to invest their time.

Writing your core values on a wall isn’t enough.  What do we mean by what we say?

How would you describe your culture?  Are there particular pain points that you think need to be addressed?  Consider these questions:

  • What are your company’s core values? 
  • Have you actually defined what your core values are?
  • How did you decide on those particular values?
  • How do you know people are living your core values?  Do people behave in ways that        demonstrate those core values? 
  • What do we do when someone isn’t behaving in a way that aligns with our core values?  Do we address is or do we sweep it under the rug?
  • What are your personal values?  Do they align with your company values?  What’s important about that?

Just writing words on a wall doesn’t make a great culture.  There is no magic formula here.

The ability to articulate what’s important to you and your organization and why is the first step in creating a culture where you will get the best of your people for who they really are. 

Tell me about your culture.  What’s something you want to change or do differently?