It’s all about striking the right balance

It’s axiomatic that culture is intrinsically linked to organizational success. Alienate your employees, and watch them leave. Then watch as your biggest customers follow suit.

And, yet, cold, cutthroat cultures still abound in every industry known to man. This despite some compelling, new research proving that boorish behavior will not only cost you your best and brightest. It may also end up killing them. One statistic in particular leapt out at me: “Stressful jobs increased the risk of a cardiovascular event by 38 percent.” Holy heart attack, Batman.

That said, I’m not a fan of those “warm and fuzzy” organizations that insist on pampering their troops and only hire employees who match the corporate weirdness. The April issue of Inc. Magazine highlighted some truly bizarre examples. To wit:

– Zappos: Where employees wear everything from pajamas and pirate costumes.

– Kimpton Hotels: Manager orientation includes taking shots of tequila from a large plastic cow and Hula-Hoop competitions.

Such bizarre behavior works for these organizations because, well, they want to attract wacky people.

For the vast majority of organizations, though, I’d counsel senior management to strike just the right balance between toughness and creativity. Peppercomm is a case in point.

As many of you know, we embed stand-up comedy training in our management training. We do so because it not only improves an employee’s listening and rapport-building skills but, critically, sets just the right tone for our workplace culture. We also encourage people to dress in their school colors during March Madness and wear whatever costumes they choose on Halloween. Our employees even produced their very own rap video.

But, we won’t hesitate to fire abusive managers in a heartbeat, downsize underperformers or blow-up fiefdoms before they take root. I’d describe it as tough, but fair. I’d also describe it as striking just the right balance.

And a tip ‘o Rep’s cap to Peppercommer Lia Lobello for suggesting this post. 

2 thoughts on “It’s all about striking the right balance

  1. First, you have men loosening their ties after 4 pm on Fridays. Then its Hawaiian Shirt Day once a year. Then companies put up a corporate bio for a cat/dog/plant, it breaks wide open with creating positions with titles like Chief “bitch/ninja/stud/geek” etc become the norm. The problem is it then becomes a wackiness Arms Race. Next thing you know you see blogs about working naked:

  2. I agree. It’s one thing to be carefree and spirited, another to be careless and unprofessional. And personally, I think the need to be distinctive can run afoul more often than not.