Culture is not grown in a yoghurt vat…

Pretty stupid blog title right? But seriously, culture has become even more important than ever… Why? Simple really. We are finding that right now there are more strong candidates in the market, willing to move than there has been for the last few years. And when we ask these 2 questions:

  1. Why are you looking to leave your current role?
  2. What is going to be the most important factor in taking a new role?

culture1The answer is the same… yoghurt… whoops… I mean CULTURE.

Good culture (even bad culture for that matter) is very hard to define. I have no doubt some of you academics out there will give it a go in the comments section, but I find it incredibly difficult to explain. You see, people are motivated by different things right? What is a good culture for one consultant maybe a bad culture for another…

So, how does a business go about building a positive culture, whilst hitting your commercial targets? It’s bloody difficult…

To make it a little easier please find below real examples from candidates their dirty, rotten cultures… (oh yeh… the key is not to mimic below…).

  1. Email Snoops – I get it… sometimes you have employees you don’t trust. But the way to build an inclusive, collegiate, positive, performing culture is not… and I repeat is not… to sit in your office and monitor all of your employees emails. I know of at least 5 recruitment agencies where the leadership team intercept and read all emails. The thing is you may discover one dishonest employee, but the damage you do to your culture, and your ability to attract and retain the best staff is terminal.
  2. Liars and the dirty, dirty cheats See what I did there? Anyway… management that systematically lies to their employees is just plain wrong (am I overstating the obvious here?). Thing is… it happens… all the time. You will never get your staff working for you if you lie to them. Transparency is one of the greatest gifts and employer can give. Give it freely.
  3. Micro, micro, micro-management – And just to be very clear, I don’t mean micro-management, or even micro, micro-management… I mean micro, micro, micro-management. I you sit on your staff 24/7, measure to the extreme, and the only words out of your mouth are ‘How many telemarketing calls and client visits did you make today?’ you have a real problem buster. Your employees will leave in droves, you will have no time to focus on strategy and the only staff you will attract are those that can’t get a job in a nice place… simple.culture2
  4. Playing favourites – If you’ve ever managed a team and you had a favourite put up your hand. Ok, put your hand down now, people are staring at you. Facts are we all have favourites. The ones that like the same things you do, the ones that don’t cause you headaches, the ones that perform month in month out… I get it… The trick is, you can have favourites, without playing favourites… Are you picking up what I’m putting down?
  5. The Commission or Bonus myth – This falls into 2 categories for me. The first is the business that has such a complicated commission structure that no-one in the business knows exactly how it works… and no-one has been paid commission since 1984… trouble is when you are going through the interview process their fantastic commission structure is all they are trying to sell you. The other one is the discretionary bonus. Seriously? Isn’t it hard enough to understand all the hoops you have to jump through to earn your bonus, but then to be told it’s discretionary… bad culture.

Employers, if you practice any of the above, my advice is change. Consultants, if you are working in an environment that practices any of the above… my advice is change… companies.

Culture is something that develops over time, by using the right ingredients and applying the right conditions. Good culture requires constant attention and tweaking to maintain, but it’s worth it if you want to sustain success.

What are your thoughts?

Craig Watson



6 thoughts on “Culture is not grown in a yoghurt vat…

  1. Jon Rice on Reply

    Good post Craig. Yes culture is hard to define but is often what causes the experienced recruiters to look around. There’s so many facets to it and one size does not fit all, but I think it can be quite easily condensed down into this: if you want a good culture, treat your staff like grown ups, and don’t be a dick.

    Well done too for not making the title “5 Bad Habits to Avoid That Will KILL Your Recruitment Culture” like most content marketing wankers out there would…

  2. Darren Ledger on Reply

    Love the “are you picking up what I’m putting down” I haven’t heard that for a long time.

    Great post, as always very honest depiction of some of the real Monsters Inc’s out there. I hasten to add however that these biological weapons of commerce aren’t exclusive to recruitment of course.

  3. Yasmin Dale on Reply

    Fantastic blog Craig…So many companies still in this day and age overlook the importance of creating a collegial, positive, fun and professional team environment. Intimidation, cut throat internal politics and fear enforced management really does not equate to longevity with staff. It is pretty simple treat your staff like adults, reward and acknowledgement, and the return will be tenfold.

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