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“Alrighty then… HR team what’s the status on implementing the new corporate culture?” – Well, desktop wallpapers with our new non-unique values are fixed on people’s computers, we have our mission printed on the reception desk, handed out a code of conduct with a great Shutterstock image of people from different nationalities on the cover and….we ordered pizza’s. – “Ok team, I think we are pretty much done here…”

Building and defining a company culture is hard. It takes time and can not be launched, implemented or planned. It is something that grows over time and can only go in the direction you want, when all initiatives, employees, new hires, ways of working are done in function of this culture. Even though many companies think they have this covered, the following 3 signs will show them, they are still a long way from home.

The dishwasher has the flu

Coffee, the thing that basically gets most people through life, not only produces people with brown teeth, but worldwide also 3 billion dirty cups a day. That is a lot of dirty cups for only 10 employees that are willing to put them in the dishwasher. It is on the other hand a great barometer for the state of your engaged collaborative culture that you are building. A dirty company kitchen shows that people are not involved or engaged towards the rest of the work floor. Why should I clean up the kitchen, I only use one cup? I have no time to fill the dishwasher, that is not my job. I’m not touching other people’s dirty dishes,… The excuses you will probably hear when you confront employees with it. Excuses that actually say, you can hang ‘respect’, ‘teamwork’ and other values on the wall, but in the end I don’t feel responsible for the common good, because my time and work is more important than that of others. The result? People timing, planning and making sure they don’t have to spend a minute too long at the dishwasher, or touch one cup too many that could mean the social pressure of the work floor requires them to clean it all up. Remember, a germ needs 2 to 3 seconds to stick, so better act fast.

Toilet poetry reaches new heights

Keep me clean. Use me well. What I’ll see, I will never tell. Shhhhh….

The toilet is generally the place most people get creative. Some in thoughts, others have the urge to paint the blank canvas they are given by the cleaning lady and feel the urge to exhibit it to the rest of the company. I can only imagine how those people’s toilets look in their own homes. The company toilets suffer the same faith as the dishwasher. Hit and runs without looking back, because it’s dirty, it’s time consuming and I’m not responsible for what colleague comes next. To fight this, most HR departments get very creative with a million quotes on the wall to stimulate respect, but actually it’s another sign.

Paper on the wall = the number one metric

Jim Carrey post it bruce almighty movie scene

Keep it clean, close the door, be quiet, don’t run, use your badge, sign off when leaving the office,… All small day to day routines employees easily forget during busy times. What you most of the time see is a million papers or stickers on walls remembering people that it is important to take notice of these small tasks. They are for the good of the company, to guarantee a fun work environment for everybody and sometimes even play a role in general security. Looking for a metric to measure if your culture growing initiatives are working? – Look at the number of papers or notes you need, to keep people in check. When it hits zero, you are successful…or you just fired everybody 🙂

On a personal note. I think the way you threat the dishwasher at your job, will eventually determine the success within your own career. It tells the world you are not engaged towards others, don’t need to do things just for the common good and expect things to be in order for you, but not for anybody else. This lack of engagement and commitment will also show in your daily work. It might be lonely at the top, but to get there you will need to stand on the shoulders of others and best not to do that with your dirty shoes 🙂