What Leaders Need to Know About Managing Subcultures with Beverly Hathorn

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In this episode of Relationships at Work, Russel chats with HR professional and consultant Beverly Hathorn on managing and aligning subcultures in the workplace.

A few reasons why she is awesome — she is the owner and managing director of Strategic HR Consultants, helping clients deliver outstanding experiences to employees to build loyalty and improve reputation.  She is a certified project manager and HR professional with more than 25 years of experience. She’s also a fellow podcaster, hosting her own show the Teambuilding Cultures Podcast.

Connect with, and learn more about Beverly on their…

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KEY TAKEAWAYS 

  • Subculture dynamics.
  • Executive engagement with various work cultures.
  • The importance of customizing engagement.
  • Alignment and adaptability of subcultures.
  • How mentorship can help with rigid subcultures.
  • Effective and personalized communication benefits

“If your subcultures are supporting the company goals and visions and culture, and then you just kind of tweak it to give it your own because of our personalities in this team or the specific work that we do, or the way we go about what we do, I think it’s a great thing.”

Beverly Hathorn

FULL TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW

Russel Lolacher: And on the show today, we have Beverly Hathorne. And here’s why she is awesome. She’s an owner, managing director of Strategic HR Consultants, helping clients deliver outstanding experiences to employees to build loyalty and improve reputation. She is a certified project manager and HR professional with more than 25 years of experience. She’s also a fellow podcaster hosting her very own show, the Team Building Cultures podcast. Welcome to the show, Beverly.

Beverly Hathorn: Thank you so much, Russel. I’m excited to be here.

Russel Lolacher: I’m excited to have you on and we’re talking cultures, which is such a big part of this show. It’s so interesting how we impact them. Don’t impact them. Before we get into all that, though, I have a question I have to ask you, Beverly, which I ask all of my guests, which is what is your best or worst employee experience?

Beverly Hathorn: I’ve been working for a long time, so I have quite a few of both, but the one I like to share most often that I think is the most encouraging to leaders and employees is… here we go. I had a leader who I was new to her team and I was working really hard to do a good job and showing my stuff.

And, we were all learning a new product and it was new for all of us. This particular leader was a very encouraging and empowering type leader and she spotted something in me. And she gave me, a project that I did not think I was prepared for. It was a huge project and the opportunity for failure was great.

The implications for it, I mean, it was huge. And so I was to kick it off, kick it off and own it. And most of the things that I would be doing in this project, I was slightly familiar with, but had never owned on my own before. So when she gave me the project I was pretty much like, I don’t know.

And she was like, yes, yes, you’re ready. Go ahead. You can do this get started. As you may guess out the gate, I kind of fumbled around, trying to figure out how to lay everything out and how to get started and get my resources together. But as I moved in the project and, I saw that there was space.

She had allowed space for me to fail. If if I failed, she had a plan in place. She was right there with me, though not holding my hand. I felt her in my, in my corner. I felt her there with me. Each challenge that I encountered, strengthened the muscle, made me think more, grew me. I went through this project very apprehensive in the beginning and then there was some of that fake it till you make it part that we do sometime, but I was very apprehensive. But as I got deeper and deeper into the project, my courage grew and my ability and my skill and my confidence grew. And just knowing that she was there and counting on me and felt that I could do it, was a big thing.

Let me tell you, to this day, that project is the most successful of all the projects that I’ve led. It was the one that provided the most learning opportunity. It was the one that gave me the best exposure in the company. And it was just awesome. And it just goes to show what a leader, a true leader can do for an employee when they exhibit that confidence and when they give what I call the grace and space to make mistakes when you give them that and you just kind of, just let them know I’m behind you. Anything you mess up, we can fix and it we don’t, we either win or learn, we never lose. And that really just brought me heights way above where I was when she first met me. It did a lot for me.

Russel Lolacher: So I have a question about that, especially as you might look on it now with all your experience and leadership journey. Looking back on that, would you have said Now, with an impartial view that you were a rock star before you got the opportunity, would you have said you were somebody that would have been a rock star or somebody that was a high performer?

Or were you just somebody that was just still trying to figure out the job, just sort of making your way? Like, where were you as a perception wise for somebody else?

Beverly Hathorn: That’s interesting because I was really probably a little of both. Jewels like diamonds they come about and become so beautiful from pressure, that pressure is what, per I’m sorry, pearls, that pressure is what makes them as beautiful as they are and what’s makes them really shine.

So I had capability. I just was not tapping into it. I wouldn’t use, utilizing it. I wasn’t growing it and it probably would have remained dormant and latent had not someone come along and said, Hey, I think this is here. And as a leader, it’s my responsibility to bring it out. I’ve, I’ve never been one that just didn’t have anything to offer.

I did have something to offer, but she saw more. She saw beyond that. And she grew that.

Russel Lolacher: And I asked that because most leaders focus on the top 20 percent the rock stars or the bottom 20 percent which are the problem, the problems, the challenges. When the opportunity is in that 60 percent of those people that are never singled out and they have that potential, but either people don’t see it in them, give them an opportunity.

So that’s why I was kind of curious if you were already a bit of a rock star. So they’re like, Oh, I know to give it to Beverly. Or they were an amazing leader, as you’re describing, that actually saw something and wanted to see what you could do and…

Beverly Hathorn: Yes. Yeah.

Russel Lolacher: safe space to try. I love that.

Beverly Hathorn: Yes, yes, yes. That’s my, it’s one of my favorite little monikers, I guess you would say the grace and space to make mistakes. You gotta allow that for your people because they will make mistakes. And that’s where the growth lies. That’s where my grandmother used to say, why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is,

Russel Lolacher: fantastic. So our topic today, Beverly, is subcultures, not necessarily cultures, which is what everybody talks about. Workplace culture, this culture. What is our culture? When I find it so infuriating because there’s no such thing in my mind and maybe you’ll correct me I don’t feel like there’s a culture. I feel like there’s 5, 000 subcultures. I feel like there there is that thing they put on the website in the poster But it’s really the subculture that you get up every morning for, that you that connects you So before we get any further in any of this I kind of want to hear the Beverly definition of what a subculture is.

Beverly Hathorn: That’s a great question and thank you for asking that. I think because that’s not often discussed I think a subculture occurs when a group of people have their track or their mindset or their ideal, what they want to be as a team and how they want to present in the company.

So the great thing about that is if you take the company’s culture that their definition of culture, Hey, we’re, we’re this, we’re customer first. So we’re if you take the company’s definition and then you kind of build your subculture around that, it’s a win-win for everybody.

The problem comes in when the subculture is created specifically and selfishly for a particular unit when they start to operate like in a silo. And it’s just us, like if manufacturing is only concerned about the number of parts that they put out because they’ve got a they’ve got a quota to meet and, and they’re going to put those parts out no matter what, regardless of the fact that some of them might not be suitable for the customer, or some of them may cause problems for the customer, then that’s when your, your subcultures, your counter subcultures can be a problem.

But if your subcultures are, are supporting the company goals and visions and, and, and culture. And then you just kind of tweak it to give it your own because of our personalities in this team or the specific work that we do, or the way we go about what we do, I, I think it’s a great thing. It just shows that you’re in line with the company and you’re, trying to make this work together.

Russel Lolacher: So why is the executive generally a little confused about subcultures? Because you get a lot of executives talking about culture on their websites, like I said, on their posters about this corporate culture, but nobody ever talks about subculture. No, no executive tends to talk about subculture. They only talk about this umbrella approach. What is the disconnect?

Beverly Hathorn: I wonder, for one, if they really know, if they really know that those subcultures exist. You’ve got to kind of be down in the, you got to kind of be down in the, in the, in the grit to know what subcultures exist in your organization. And I think, and this is nothing bad nor good for the executives, but I think that once they create that culture, hey, this is where, this is where we’re going to, this is direction we’re going in.

And that’s probably the only culture that they actually see. And they probably you see, you, you find evidence of what you want to believe. So they find evidence that, everybody’s in line with their culture. And I don’t think they really always know or understand the subculture that, that occurs in their organization.

The layers. I don’t think they really always know that.

Russel Lolacher: So how can they and how do you get them interested in taking those steps?

Beverly Hathorn: Yeah. You gotta get in with your people. You really need to get in with your people and see what challenges they face and what, what priorities they have. I spoke with a leader once who talked about like a 360 view of his company and he was in every… you know, he was in every little nook and cranny.

So he knew everything that was going on in his company. Now, granted, that’s probably a lot of hard work. Maybe after you’ve done it for a while, you refine the process to where it works for you. But if you are only familiar with the top layers of what’s going on, then you’re really not very, you’re really not very familiar.

So, I think if leaders executives give themselves an opportunity to just dig a little deeper, build a few relationships a few levels down and just get to know people and what goes on in those organizations. Sure, customer service serves customers, but do you know that half of their resources are outdated?

Are you aware of the level of turnover that they experience? If it’s a high level of turnover, do you know why ? I mean, it’s, it, yeah, I think they should just kind of work to get a little deeper.

Mm

Russel Lolacher: I remember doing a presentation to a bunch of executives and one of those executives asked me at the end of the presentation and said, how do you get to know your organization? Because all I hear from are my two admin staff. I don’t, I don’t know like what’s going on. I was like, do you leave your office?

Have you ever walked another floor? Because all you’re doing is sitting on your throne in your office, waiting for people to come to you. You have to make the effort. You just can’t go, I don’t understand the culture and sit in your bubble and then wonder why you don’t know what’s going on. There is as much as you say, there’s a lot of effort to it, but it’s worthwhile because you can’t say…

Beverly Hathorn: It is.

Russel Lolacher: You don’t understand when you’re also not making any effort to understand.

Beverly Hathorn: That’s exactly right. Have those skip levels and, go out and talk to people. We had a leader once… yes, I worked at a great organization, so we had a leader once who he was probably maybe three levels above me, and he would come into our center, into the call center, and he had a football. And he would just toss the football to a random person. Just toss the football. If you caught the football, then he would go and talk to you. Hey, how’s it going? And so then when he saw you later, maybe pass you in the hall or in the break room or something, he would ask you about something that he knew about you or something that you had talked to him about, how’s your daughter?

I heard that, I know she broke her leg. Is she healing well or… hey, how’s that, that new, that new system we install that you said you were struggling with, he was really, really good at getting to know his people. And I’ll tell you, it’s nothing better than there probably are some things better, but it’s really good when you’re, when you pass your VP in the hall and he knows your name, when you pass your VP in the hall and he knows what you do.

And he says, Hey Bev I heard that you got that new that new client, how’s things working out? I mean, it, it just really makes you feel very connected, appreciated, understood, seen, and employees want to know that they are all those things. They don’t want to just be another cog in the wheel, another body in the chair… they want to know that they count. And when your leaders get involved and work to just tap into those little relationships, you don’t have to, come to Christmas dinner just, just gotta tap in a little bit and get to know your people.

It really does wonders for engagement and, and the relationship. productivity and performance, everything

Russel Lolacher: I want to flip that a bit though, because I mean, that’s the VP sounds fantastic going out engaging with his staff, but I bet you there’s a few people that don’t want something thrown at their face. Like there’s probably a few people that are feeling not as maybe extroverted or want to engage in that way.

So as a leader that may be trying to understand some of the subcultures in the organization, how do you approach it when you know, maybe one size of engagement doesn’t fit all.

Beverly Hathorn: Know your audience know, your audience. It didn’t take us long to realize that’s one of the things that he would do. So when we saw him, if you were interested, you were interested. You showed attention. If you didn’t, he wouldn’t just like bonk you in the back of the head with it or anything.

But if you were interested and I don’t think he was, I don’t think his goal was to get to know everyone in the organization. I think he wanted to just get feelers and just see what he could learn. See what he could find out just by talking to people. Communication is everything. Just by talking to people, I think he just wanted to see what he could learn and what he could find out.

Russel Lolacher: Let’s get a little granular and let’s look at teams, team based culture creation. Where do you start when you’re maybe forming a team? You’re in that storming, norming, forming part of getting a team together. How do you start the path of creating a new culture for a team within an organization?

Beverly Hathorn: Of course you’ve got to make that crystal clear what you intended to be. And we need to show what success looks like because my version of the culture you just described might be different than your version. So we need to show what that looks like. And most important, leaders need to walk the talk.

It’s so important that leaders actually walk the talk and, and, and, and be that be that culture. If you want a culture of collaboration, communicate and, and work with your people in the way that is best for them. Another thing that I like to say is in organizations, culture is the soil in which all things grow.

I’m a plant mom. I, I like plants, indoors, outdoors. I know what my plants need. Some of them need more water than others. Some of them need more sun than others. Some of them don’t even like to be by each other. I mean really, plants, plants are like that. It’s like move him. I don’t want to be by him, I, I get to know them. I, I work to know them and see what they like and what they don’t like and where they’re going to best thrive. And when leaders do that and then you’re creating that culture of empowerment and empathy and we’re working together and when you, when you walk that talk that shows and they see what that looks like.

Russel Lolacher: You mentioned earlier about how cultures with subcultures within teams need to in some way align with the corporate cultures. But what if while you’re making this subculture, while you’re aligning the subculture, you start going in other directions that might not be specifically in line with the corporate culture. How do you address that?

Beverly Hathorn: Of course, you’ve got to get it back in line because the vision and the goals and, and the, and the, the entire organizational purpose is not going to function with all these different spider legs going all over the place and everybody doing their own thing. We’ve got to work together.

That’s number one, we, we must work together. But if you find that that’s happening, revisit your vision, the company vision and goals revisit, , the, the overarching umbrella of the culture and just see how you can get things back in line. But that’s key. You must get things back in line.

Russel Lolacher: So here’s an interesting dilemma. There are a lot of organizations that have toxic cultures, ones that are just horrendous. And there are some subcultures that will be formed as a defense mechanism against the corporate culture that might be toxic. How do you align that? Because you’re almost using it as a protective shield that as long as I don’t have to engage with anybody outside my silo, I’m OK. How do you reconcile that?

Beverly Hathorn: Yeah, there’s, there’s no us versus them in an organization. There’s only we, and we’ve all got to work together once again. So building those routine building opportunities to build those relationships across across the, the hallway across the, get to know the other people that you work with.

So number one, that helps you when you encounter issues, you might, if you’re in customer service and you’re trying to get an installation done and you’ve built a relationship with somebody in, in maintenance or an install or whatever, you can utilize that but by the same token, then they can come across the hall and… but those relationships will help everybody.

Be more successful and more productive and improve performance. There, there’s definitely no us versus them. I’ve worked in, I’ve, I’ve been privy to those types of cultures and they do not succeed at some point, something is going to break that team up. Or the, the lack of performance will be obvious the lack of, co working and cooperating and collaborating because collaboration doesn’t just mean that you and I work together.

It means that we work together for a goal not just you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. We’re working together for a goal. And if you’re not successful. successful at that, excuse me, your numbers are going to show, your employee engagement is going to drop. Your employees are not going to be happy.

If you pit them against other organizations or even, or even allow them to pit themselves against each other that’s going to build a fence, a wall that is at some point going to be impenetrable and it’s just not going to work. So as a leader that I think that’s one of the things that leaders should do.

But unfortunately, Sometimes leaders establish these, they establish these toxic cultures. They play favoritism. As you mentioned before, they sometimes reward the same people over and over again. The person on the bottom is like, what’s the point in even trying, I’m not I’m not going to get recognized for anything or… I’ve, I’ve definitely been in such a culture and it is definitely up to the leader to To recognize that and remedy that.

Russel Lolacher: I love that you talk about relationships because obviously it’s the name of the show. So the whole point of if you can’t control a toxic culture, you can’t. Like at the end of the day, you’re there, but you can control how you show up. You can control the relationships you have with other teams. You can model the culture that you wish you worked corporately.

So I like, I love the, I like, I love the idea that your subculture can actually, I mean, if it’s successful or not successful, at least you’ll be able to get up in the morning and be a little bit more motivated than slog into this toxic culture, but really we have, tendrils might be the worst metaphor here, but sort of tendrils into other teams and going, I love working with them.

Their culture is amazing. I wish I worked on their team.

Beverly Hathorn: Hmm. Mm hmm. Mm

Russel Lolacher: There’s some positivity. You can, you can plant seeds in a toxic culture with a subculture.

Beverly Hathorn: That’s right. Yeah. Yeah. And it, the, the last opportunity, I’ll call it, that I had to work in a, in a toxic culture. Even for a person like myself who typically I like to try to excel, be good at my job. I want to take on extra stuff. I want to, I want to be dependent on, I want to be reliable. I want to be seen as someone who performs and reaches. And even with all of that, a toxic culture literally just ripped me to, I was almost invisible. I mean, my personality just shrunk like, I don’t know, like a cheap shirt you just washed in water. I just, shrunk down to literally nothing because that, that culture was so toxic.

They practiced, they it was a, it was a organization where they’d all been working together for a very, very long time together. They knew their jobs in and out. I mean, they were really good at their jobs too. And so for a new person to come in and to be able to do that job would have meant that number one, you’re not as special as you may think you are, and number two, maybe your job is not, as difficult as you seem to think it is so they looked at new people coming in.

They didn’t look upon it favorably. It was not, Oh, this is my opportunity to grow somebody and move somebody along in their career. That’s not how the four of us new people were accepted. We were who are you? And where did you come from? And why do you think you had a right to be here?

And that, in that culture, we struggled to grow. We struggled to find resources to increase our skills and our ability. We struggled to even penetrate that outer core and make friends with these people and, I think leadership… it’s just my thought. I think leadership thought that well maybe we were indispensable because after all your core group is performing. Your core group is getting along. They’re all building relationships and they’re all great. It’s these few people that you know, we’ve hired in here recently that you know aren’t quite fitting in and you know as long as they’re doing their job, you know I guess it’s okay, but my core group is still my power and hey, it’s great. So we, we struggled.

Russel Lolacher: Absolutely. Absolutely. The whole, the ends justify the means thing drives me nuts. So, I want you to put on your HR experience hat and leadership hat and look back at that subculture of a team that wasn’t inclusive, that wasn’t welcoming because they, they’d established themselves. What advice would you give them now to be more welcoming in, in being in more inclusive for the, for your four group?

Beverly Hathorn: Sure. Sure. And this is my HR hat as well as my customer service hat, because I’m, I’m a customer service person at heart. I always will be. It’s a wonderful opportunity to grow someone and to make somebody’s whatever, day, life, moment, career better. It’s a wonderful opportunity to have your hand in there because they will be years, years later, as am I now, talking about the impact that you had in your life, in their life or in their career. I would say too, as an HR person, you need to make sure that everyone is… your inclusivity is there. You need to make sure that everyone gets opportunities and everyone has the resources and the training available to them.

However HR rolls those plans out, make sure that people are taking advantage of it. Make sure that the, the senior people express to the junior people, hey, this would be great for you, you should try this. Or this is how I got where I am, here Travis. And make it attractive. Roll those new trainings out there like piles of balloons and whistles and bells and ice cream. And Hey, this is some great new stuff and you’re got to get the opportunity to learn this and the opportunity to learn that. And then those people who seek that, will, will latch on. They’ll catch on and they’ll And they’ll, they’ll fall in line.

But again, if, if a culture is toxic, it really just takes a lot of attention and relationship building to kind of wash that toxic, toxicity out. And it takes a while. It takes energy. It takes the desire. And, and if you, like I said, if your core group is performing yeah, I watched it.

I spent all that extra energy to, so yeah,

Russel Lolacher: I mean, I’m, I’m thinking even just no, it’s, it’s, it’s a good one because I’m looking at leadership going, where is the leadership? Really? When you have a team that has been around for a while, I mean, we’re talking about subcultures, not only informing them, but also as you bring up ones that are so established, they’re, they’re rigid to change.

They are rigid to new members joining them, which is also a huge problem. So I’m wondering where leadership is when it comes to sitting down the established team to make them understand how important it is to get new ideas, innovation…

Beverly Hathorn: yeah.

Russel Lolacher: fresh perspectives.

Beverly Hathorn: Right.

Russel Lolacher: And if that story is not being told, then their walls are up and not wondering why do I need to spend that extra time teaching a new person?

I just want to do my job.

Beverly Hathorn: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’d be, it would have been great in my case, if someone had assigned a mentor assigned a mentor and said I mean, leaders who is most plausible, susceptible, acceptable to something like that, assign a mentor. And because I had questions, how’d you get where you are? I want to be where you are. What do I do? What’s the, what courses do I take? What opportunities do I look out for? Assign a mentor who will maybe toss some of those opportunities. You get three cases on your desk. One of them is a little less difficult or, or intricate or whatever, toss that over to your new person and let them start building that muscle and let them start growing and let them start exercising those opportunities and, and again, be there to, to, to help them and give the grace and space to make mistakes.

Assign a mentor, let somebody help bring them along because after all leaders do have another job. They do have other work, so I understand that they can’t be a hundred percent, a hundred percent attentive to this new staff that you just got. But and that, and that, when you’re doing that, you’re training your other, your, your, your senior people to be leaders.

This is, this is how you lead, you know you it’s, I don’t know, it’s the old succession thing, I guess, that just did not occur in that organization and nobody was really interested. Mm hmm.

Russel Lolacher: How do you communicate when it comes to a subculture? I mean, we do these email blasts or town halls when it comes to larger organizations. But when you’re a subculture, it’s a little more intimate. It could be hybrid. It could be remote. It could be many things. What are some best practices or best approaches anyway, or preferred approaches.

I hate best practices. I hate that term because there’s always so many other ways of doing things. Needless to say, what would you recommend from a communication standpoint when it comes to team building?

Beverly Hathorn: One, let’s determine how we prefer to communicate. Do we prefer these texting systems that you have online that everybody can text back and forth. When you sign in, in the morning, we can see that you’re here. Is that how we want to communicate or do we want to have scheduled calls or scheduled meetings or whatever?

Let’s first determine the best way for us to communicate and then get everybody on board. Some people don’t like sitting up in the conference room and in a two hour meeting that they don’t see their party in and they don’t see… And some people don’t like to get those little texts back and forth.

They’re not looking at them. They’re looking at their work or whatever, and they miss them and an hour goes by and you haven’t responded. And now somebody’s upset because they’ve been waiting on you. So let’s, let’s determine, from a strategic standpoint, how will we communicate so that it’s effective?

I think that’s the first thing. And then the second thing is to make sure everybody’s comfortable with that mode of communication. Everybody knows how to utilize that system. Everybody’s okay with that system. Everybody knows how to be show up to that system. And, and by that, I mean, be cheerful, be happy, because after all, the written word is interpretive. What I said might not be what you heard. Just make sure that we know how to communicate the written word that way. And, and make sure everybody’s on board with it. And then if it’s not working, don’t be afraid to change it. Don’t be afraid to say nothing’s written in stone.

Don’t be afraid to say we tried this and it’s really not working for everybody. So let’s just try something else. So be flexible. Don’t be so rigid. And and, and, and most important is not because I said so, it’s not because I’m the leader and I said, this is how we’re going to do it. And that’s that.

This, no, that’s not going to work. You’re going to find people very resistant to that. But if you, if you want to establish a culture of collaboration and communication and relationships, all those things have to come into play for it to be effective.

Russel Lolacher: And I think you’ve touched on the biggest strengths of subcultures. Which is, one, the adaptability of it. The quick adaptability of it.

Moving the Titanic is what a lot of organizations do to get them to change how they communicate or understand their employees is very hard from the top of it.

But when you’re only dealing with six, 10, 15 people, you can create a subculture that is inspired by the personalization. That was the other thing I was thinking of was personalization. If they have dogs or cats, if they have children so you can actually, I’m going to, I’m going to talk like a plant lady here.

You can water, you can water your own environment that you’re in every day.

Beverly Hathorn: That’s right.

Russel Lolacher: And having that personalization and that quick adaptability speaks volumes because your team sees you being so interested, pivoting so quickly.

Beverly Hathorn: Right.

Russel Lolacher: And, and…

Beverly Hathorn: Right.

Russel Lolacher: That only builds that trust and that psychological safety of an environment.

Beverly Hathorn: It really does. And I’m glad you mentioned psychological safety because in a, in, in a team, we need to be, I need to be comfortable expressing my innovation, my creativity, my knowledge, my misunderstanding, my confusion. I need to be able to be comfortable expressing that. And if you’ve created a culture where.

I’m looked upon as. In a negative aspect because I didn’t understand a certain system or I need help with a certain new process or, and, and if I sit there and I can’t express that because I’m afraid to express that, or if I, if I know that there’s a problem in a way that we operate and I can’t bring it to you, it just continues to be a problem.

That’s a problem. Yes. That’s a problem. Psychological safety needs to be present.

Russel Lolacher: Yes It makes me think of examples where they do these town halls. They do these huge organizational virtual meetings where you’ll have that one or two person anger fest. Where they use this as an opportunity to really voice their anger, their concerns, their frustrations with how the organization is. And their frustration could be the large level, it could be their day to day.

But my thought is always, why don’t they feel safe to provide this feedback in their own team? Why is their leader not paying attention to this? Or if they are paying attention, why are they not voicing it up or over that this person feels their only recourse is to voice it out on such a public platform.

So that I always find interesting,

Beverly Hathorn: Yes, and, and your first level, will find that interesting as well, because that is something that the, the, the next level leader is going to come to you and say, did you know that? Did you know that that was good? Did you know that Bev felt that way? And if you’re like, no, I really did not. Okay. If There’s a system that is ineffective and inefficient, and I’ve got to take 12 steps around to get the results, the desired results, simply because you won’t implement a new system. And then I get up in the town hall and tell everybody that… that’s a problem. And, and, and these town halls, I’m glad you mentioned those as well, because don’t just have these town halls and let everybody talk about what they don’t like and what they would like to see and what should change and what and then disperse and that’s it.

We need to see you take action and when you take action, we need to see that you’re taking action on that particular subject or that particular problem or that particular issue. And you need to say, as we heard in the town hall, ABC does no longer works for us. It’s not a great resource.

We’re looking into this and here’s a new thing we’re going to do. And you need to take action. You can’t just have these wonderful opportunities to express yourself. And then it all just falls to air when it’s over. You can’t do that.

Russel Lolacher: Completely agree. And I think it’s also important to recognize that leaders of these teams need to make it relatable to their team because CEOs and executive at that level are looking at the larger organization. They don’t know Jim and Jill and Michael, they, they don’t know them. So it’s up to that leader understanding their subculture going… and I don’t want to use the word translate cause I don’t think that’s the right word, but it kind of is. Because…

Beverly Hathorn: Yeah

Russel Lolacher: This is what they said. This is what it means to us. This is what it means to our work. This is what it means to how we show up. I think that’s really important for leaders to understand is that they have a role in not only supporting what their bosses say, but also supporting their team and how they understand it.

Beverly Hathorn: That’s right. That’s right.

Russel Lolacher: So how do you know your subculture is good or bad? Is there any way to measure this?

Beverly Hathorn: Again, if it, it must be in line with the company, we all got to be going in the same direction like in a rowboat we can’t, I can’t roll this way and you roll that way. We’re just going to go around in a circle. If we all want to go in the same direction, we’re taking the boat the same way.

We got to roll together. We got to roll together. So if you see that your culture… I use the example of manufacturing. If you see that the marketing team or productionist is constantly saying we’ve got 20 percent of our product goes in the trash but manufacturing saying you told us this was the number to meet and that’s the number we’re meeting.

They’ve established their own culture, meet this number to heck with all else. And then that’s something that you need to correct. And somebody needs to get in there and even if it’s production or even if it’s marketing, who’s saying we keep selling these fiddle faddle widgets, but people are returning them all the time and customer services complaining about the number of refunds they have to issue.

Manufacturing is not producing a quality product. So they’ve established that culture that we’re going to hit our goal, which we’re not interested in anything. We’re just going to hit our goal. And then that’s when you got that rowboat just going around in a circle.

Russel Lolacher: I got to wrap this up with the question I ask everybody, Beverly, which is what’s one simple action, just one, that people can do right now to improve their relationships at work?

Beverly Hathorn: Oh, that’s a great question. You can just work at, one by one, just getting to know your people. You can do things like what I call drive bys. You could do little walk bys and just stop and see what’s going on. Talk about their goals and where they’d like to go. What their plans are for their career and how you can help them get there.

I think if you just start by helping your employees understand how important they are and what they mean to you and the success of the company and to the customer and what the value that they have. I think that, that, that in itself goes a long way. Now depending on how many mud pies you got in your culture or whatever that of course is not going to be everything, but I think that’s a good start.

Build those relationships and show that interest and, and, and, and give them that value.

Russel Lolacher: That is Beverly Hathorn. She is the owner and managing director of Strategic HR Consultants, and she’s the podcaster of Team Building Cultures podcast. Thank you so much for being here, Beverly.

Beverly Hathorn: Thank you so much for having me. This was a blast. Thank you, Russel.

 

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