Why Culture Matters

By James Kwon

Recently Bozoma Saint John spoke at one of my favorite conferences; The Global Leadership Summit about the importance of culture. She brought an interesting perspective as the Head of Global Consumer Marketing for Apple, a company where culture is a primary focus. Her experience at Apple contrasted with her more recent experience as Chief Brand Officer for Uber as they were feeling the effects of an unhealthy culture. 

Saint John neatly laid out the differences between a healthy culture and a toxic one. A thriving culture is one in which the entire company is moving together in the same direction. For example, when she was at Apple, everyone got on board to promote the latest iPhone, even if they weren’t in that department. When the company won, they all won.

By contrast, at Uber, no one spoke up against bad practices because no one was encouraged to use their voice. The problem stemmed from poor leadership: the leaders didn’t create an environment where people could express their concerns or give input.

Leaders need to first show up as their true selves, said Saint John. They need to be authentic and personable. People can tell who is just “faking it” or “putting it on,” and by portraying themselves as bulletproof or perfect, leaders aren’t necessarily inspiring perfection. Instead, they’re communicating to their teams that they can’t be approached with problems. “If [leaders] show no cracks, their people won’t show their cracks,” said Saint John.

When the culture is healthy, people show up as their true selves, their most brilliant selves. In unhealthy cultures, they feel pressure to fit in, as well as a sense of being “less than.” This feeling can lead to inauthentic, passive-aggressive behavior that further perpetuates the toxicity.

It takes everyone’s voices to transform a toxic culture into a healthy one. According to Saint John, it’s important to remember that everyone at the company owns the culture.  “You own your own cubicle and the cubicle next to you,” she said. Leaders can’t fix it alone; they need everyone to participate. Culture includes everyone.  

What We Believe 

We believe everyone has value and was created to have an impact. Our Company Mission is to help everyone our company comes into contact with see their full potential realized. We express this mission through the many little things we do to ensure our team feels cared for, both emotionally and physically. We work hard to provide them with the tools necessary to deliver their best work every day in a fun and supportive culture that is built on our guiding core values:

  • Hospitality – A spirit to serve with graciousness.
  • Grit – To roll up your sleeves and find a path to solution.
  • Empathy – Willingness to approach problems through the eyes/shoes of others.
  • Accountability – Let your yes be yes, and your no be no.
  • OGR – When you can’t do everything else, Own it. Grieve it. Redeem it.
  • Impact – A mesmerizing quality in your work.

The end result is a team spirit where people care deeply about their co-workers, their clients, and the community in which they work.

What We Do

Spotlight Core Values: After we established clear core values, we implemented a team reward program with Bonusly that allows team members to reward one another with points that can be redeemed for monetary prizes. Each reward MUST be tied to a core value. This program allows us to talk about and reward our core values daily. We also meet as a company three times a year at our State of the Fig, where we talk about our core values and give examples of team members who exemplify them.  

Give Employees a Say: Our company runs on  EOS®, which allows us to all be on the same page regarding our corporate strategies, goals, and finances. This policy creates an environment where issues are able to be brought up and everyone in the meeting has a chance to express their concerns and opinions. It has become our employees’ favorite meeting! As Saint John said, it’s crucial that your people feel like they have a voice.

To that end, we also send out anonymous monthly surveys to our team that allows them to weigh in on different aspects of the business, including culture, compensation and pay rates, and company goals and direction. 

Multiple Check-ins: Our managers are committed to checking in with their team members individually two times per month. In these meetings, we ask what is going well, where they are seeing challenges, and how we can help. We then ask if there’s anything we can Start, Stop, or Continue—for both the manager and the employee. This is a safe place where team members are able to open up about both their personal life and their professional life. As Saint John said, being authentic helps promote a positive company culture. 

We also have a Marketplace Chaplain that visits our company every Tuesday. Our chaplain gives our team members another opportunity to connect with someone for support and guidance.

We love that our team not only feels the effects of a healthy culture but also see they have a role in shaping it. When our employees tell us “I didn’t know work could be like this,” we know we are running our business in a way that honors God. We are reminded that we are not in the marketing business as much as we are in the people business. 

We have learned firsthand that culture defines and shapes an organization. It’s what makes our business unique and is the sum of its values, traditions, beliefs, interactions, behaviors, and attitudes. Positive workplace culture attracts talent, drives engagement, impacts happiness and satisfaction, and affects performance.

Cultivating a healthy culture happens when we pay attention to our people and open the doors for communication and collaboration. When we don’t do these things, or when we set our sights on the profits rather than the people, we leave our company open to decay and we will leave our team in the dust. When we don’t focus on culture, we’re more likely to have an unhealthy one. There’s no doubt that employee turnover and bad customer relations are all end products of an unhealthy culture. Indeed, there is a lot at stake if we don’t prioritize culture, and the losses that can occur from a bad culture are huge

At Figmints, our belief in a healthy work culture simply stems from our love and appreciation for our people. We want all of us to come to work and feel like we’re part of a family that loves each other. And that’s a win-win for all of us. 

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