Walking Work Culture

July 23, 2019

Company culture is very important to me, but I don’t like to talk about it explicitly very often.  I don’t walk into a company or onto a sales floor and say, “this is the culture that I’m building.”  I don’t like to preach. But, it’s very important to me that culture is cultivated intentionally. I do like to help craft it and create it.  So, I try to find ways to walk the walk instead of talk the talk.

A huge part of my story that everyone has heard is my struggle with physical illness.  As much as I would love for that story to live in the past as some major hurdle I had to overcome to get to where I am now, it is actually with me where I am now.  I still go once or twice a week to doctors appointments to try to take care of my health. That’s something I don’t mind talking about.

I think talking about what’s going on with me is more effective in creating a culture than talking about culture.  When I open up and share my struggles, it gives other people permission to do the same. It sets a tone that tells people it’s okay to take care of yourself.  It’s okay if you aren’t some indestructible superhuman – I’m definitely not! I know I’m not the only person in the building who has to deal with health issues.  Sometimes people will have to take a day off. Sometimes they’ll have to work from home. Sometimes they’ll have to leave early for a doctors appointment. And when they have to do these things, they know they’re supported and understood.  They feel secure asking for that time off. To me, that’s an important aspect of company culture.

I have worked really hard the last few years to continually become more empathetic.  I try to be more receptive and understanding of other people’s struggles. I find I’m better able to relate when I’m honest about my own.  My hope is to help people feel comfortable and safe and more motivated to perform well. You have to be well to perform well.

How do you contribute to a culture that supports wellbeing?  Do you feel comfortable asking for time off when you need it?  Why or why not?