Drop the ‘tude, dude!
I’ve been reading UserVoice’s community blog for the past couple months, and I’ve been taking away a LOT of good lessons. One topic in particular is about company culture, and about how everything we do affects it – starting with attitude.
I’ve been paying a lot of attention to my own attitude, and I admit it’s not always easy. When I’m faced with a customer who just isn’t getting it, I’ve been trying to stomp on that impulse to decrease the importance. I’ve also been trying to combat any impulses like that from the people I work most closely with – if they have something negative to say, I try to balance it out with how the customer must feel or point out what the customer is dealing with. We work too closely together, and a bad attitude can fester.
Attitude and Culture
Culture is largely about attitude, which then leads to actions. This effect can be very dangerous, and turn company values into the shallow statements that some skeptics think they are.
A bad attitude is toxic – it has the potential to bring everyone down. The link above talks about how bosses affect culture from above, but it can be eroded from below, too.
Humor and Culture
Sarcasm is a necessary part of daily life (and a good way to blow off steam). But if someone continues to make jokes at the expense of your values (“sure, we’ll build that feature…as soon as our frakking customers learn how to use the ones we already have”), it might represent an underlying problem.
Everyone just seems to accept it, like “Oh, that’s just how this person is – if you met them you’d understand.” But these are the people on the front lines who are talking to our customers. If we’re truly making a concerted effort to have “AWESOME” service, how can it take root in the same culture where behavior like this is allowed?
A Caring Culture
You can’t train someone to actually care. You can’t pay them to care. Could I pay you to care about my niece’s school play? No. I can pay you to fake it but you won’t really care (and when you think I’m not looking, you’ll behave how you really feel.)
So how do we combat this? No one has any one answer, but watching our own attitudes (and those of the people we work with or employ) is a good start.
Find examples of people doing a great job following your values and share them with the staff. Encourage employees to take other employees aside if they’re not following values, like BoomTown does. Call out a value when you see it being broken.
I know I’m just one guy, off in my own little room, but I try to make an impact in what we do as a company. It’s important to me and I care how people see us (even the difficult people).