An extraordinary culture is a culture that brings joy.

A culture that brings joy has smart, simple, clean clarity.

Clarity of purpose.
Clarity of direction.
Clarity of agreements.
Clarity of expectations.
Clarity of strategy, process and KPIs.
Clarity of shared identity.

Many well-intentioned morale and culture efforts can be lackluster.  Often these initiatives are kept around simply because they were someone’s pet project and it seemed good enough to enough people.  Just meh–littering and distracting your workspace and your team’s mindspace.

Then there are those efforts that are met with a rousing round of applause – resonating either by creating relief or high fives.  These often become integrated, healthy cultural norms – like finally putting the kibosh on triangulation and gossip. Instead, the entire team engages in a constellation of kind, candid and constructive communication.

Look at your culture…

  1. What aspects of your culture create real joy? How do you foster those aspects? Keep those and strategically expand on them.
  2. What’s a distraction? For example, perhaps you invested in a personality assessment 3 years ago and some use the language, some don’t; newer employees haven’t taken it and can’t relate.  You don’t intend to reinvest to keep it at the forefront, but you try to mention it on occasion to keep it “alive.” Let it go.
  3. What mind trash needs to be thrown out? Perhaps time poverty is a scapegoat or there’s old baggage that’s never really been addressed and continues to haunt your team.  Address it and shift it.
  4. Make real progress on strategic initiatives or put them on hold. You’ve got to get rid of the heavy admonishing guilt constantly hanging over the team’s head.
  5. Clean up lack of alignment. Instill meaningful, intrinsically-driven, non-punitive accountability.
  6. Address the mess-makers: gossip mongers, drama creators, low performers, process underminers.

 Here’s to a culture that brings joy to your team!

*The KonMari method (developed by Japanese organizing consultant and author Marie Kondo) consists of gathering together all of one’s belongings, one category at a time, and then keeping only those things that “spark joy”, and choosing a place for everything from then on.


Team Building/Culture Building Activity:

All of my culture work and guidance falls under three pillars: having your team feel that they are known, they matter and they are included.

The exercise I’m going to share with you supports the second two pillars.  It deepens mutual respect by clarifying what it means and what it looks like to support co-workers in feeling a sense of belonging.

This simple exercise comes from an educator and student training company called On Course Workshop that helps colleges improve student success and retention. It’s called “Mattering vs. Marginalizing” based on the work of Nancy K. Schlossberg. This exercise, applied to your workplace, supports the same outcomes: employee success and employee retention.

Here’s a shortened description of the exercise adopted for the workplace.

Enjoy!