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The Human Math Behind Your Company Culture

Cheral Stewart  

Blog - Cheral Stewart - July 14, 2017

The Human Math Behind Your Company Culture

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How does a company with a high-trust culture have 3X higher revenue growth than a company with lower trust?

The initial answer is in the data. In 2016, London School of Business did a study using our data from leading companies and found a compelling business case linking a high-trust culture to business revenue.

But this research doesn’t tell us the whole story. How exactly does a company culture affect overall business so drastically?

The link didn’t fully make sense to me until I thought back on my own work experiences.

Let’s do the human math. Most of us who have worked at four or more companies have had at least one experience at a not-great workplace.

Here’s what a day at that low-trust company might look like.

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Low-Trust Company Culture

  • Get to work right on time. You’re definitely not excited, and possibly apprehensive.
  • Head for the coffee gossip area and check-in with the cronies for the latest ridiculous initiatives; who has been fired, what all the secrecy around the sales outing is about, etc.
  • Start the day’s meetings.
  • Don’t volunteer any ideas because your boss or someone else often steals them.
  • If you’re a member of a marginalized group at work, you try not to be constantly upset over the disregard or lack of respect.
  • Sound competent.
  • Give status reports.
  • Praise upper level managers and executives.
  • Try to look interested and essential.
  • Head out to lunch with your besties and try to figure out if your job is going to be cut. Cleverly bad mouth the company in a way no one can quote you on. Share nothing personal because it can be used against you.
  • Check your email with sinking feeling of doom.
  • More meetings. (Ditto above.)
  • Try to fit in actual work.
  • Avoid your boss.
  • Send several emails showing you are on top of it. Copy lots of people.
  • Take a smoke or bathroom break. Take deep breaths and try to go to your happy place.
  • Go to the doctor’s for a blood pressure check.
  • Watch clock.
  • Go home.
  • Netflix, wine/beer and sporadically look for new jobs.

 

That all adds up to:

  • 6 hours of CYA (Cover Your A**: Protect your job, protect information fiefdom, gather rumors, etc.)
  • 2 hours of actual work. No innovation
  • State of Being: Exhausted

 

Now let’s compare that to a day at a high-trust company.

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High trust Culture Company

  • Get to work early because you’re so pumped to be there.
  • Share excitement and pride in projects well-done at the coffee area.
  • Head into a meeting where you brainstorm an awesome new idea with your colleagues after some friendly chit-chat.
  • Share information and ideas in friendly collegial way.
  • Enjoy being on a great team that has your back.
  • No one disrespects you for being different.
  • Feel empowered to find and enact the best solutions.
  • Work on new ideas and stabilizing key systems.
  • Give out praise and appreciation naturally.
  • Receive appreciation.
  • Have lunch and keep talking about what’s happening on your projects, new hot things planned at the company, your family life.
  • Try and make as much progress as possible. Talk with all stakeholders as needed.
  • Give truthful status reports about what is working and what is not working.
  • Be astonished at 5 pm time. Where has the day gone?
  • At home that evening, you’re feeling good about your contributions that day at work and excited to go back.

 

The human math:

  • 8 hours of productive and innovative work.
  • State of Being: Tired but energetic – like you just gave it your all! Happy. Proud. Fulfilled. Full of excitement for tomorrow.

 

In the first scenario, the employee works about 2 hours per day. Solid but not inspired. In the second scenario, the employee is highly productive, engaged in producing now and innovating for the future for 8 plus hours.

Where do you think you and your company fit in?

 

Cheral Stewart
Cheral Stewart

Cheral Stewart is a Jill of All Trades and employee at Great Place to Work. She has been an avid youth kickball player, a collegiate athlete (First Women’s Crew Team at UC Berkeley), and fell into the IT/Operations world in the late 90’s.  She is currently a writer, artist and handles marketing automation at GPTW.