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Minor Changes that Have a BIG Impact on Culture

By February 14, 2018 No Comments

This is a question that I answered from Quora:

What minor changes at your company in everyday work had a (big) positive impact on the corporate culture?

My principle is that the primary job of a CEO is to keep employees safe. Once I recognized and embraced this important principle, I made several small changes that have helped (none of these are my original ideas) create a positive culture at TGG.

First, I embraced the concept of permanent employment espoused by Simon Sinek. At TGG, employees can only be fired for two things. The concept of permanent employment might appear to be antithetical to good management. Or worse, it could appear to be stifling or self-sabotaging. However, I have found it to be quite the opposite.

At TGG, employees (all employees) can be fired for only two things:
1.) Lying, Cheating, Stealing
2.) Undermining each other, the company, or your clients.

While on the surface, permanent employment may sound scary to management, I found this to be a fairly nominal change, because I have never, and would never, fire employees for making mistakes. As an organization, our job is to hire people that will fit in with the TGG culture, teach them, and then train them when they make mistakes. The shift to verbalizing permanent employment at TGG has subtly encouraged more collaboration, it has focused our efforts on hiring for culture, and it has rooted out any passive aggressive behavior that, in the past, sabotaged the employees’ feelings of safety.

Second, I de-prioritized the things that appeared to create unity. For example, we have no dress code. A dress code is a personal choice and removing that personal choice provides the illusion of unity, but I have seen many companies, in uniform, that are constantly fighting with each other. Taking away the dress code meant one less thing we had to police, and it also meant one less rule people had to follow.

Additionally, we also have no set office hours. At TGG, you work the hours it takes to accomplish your goals. You have set, measurable goals, and this policy provides individual responsibility and shared purpose without making employees feel they are working under someone’s thumb.

Finally, I prioritize the things that I believe create a shared experience and a common goal.

The first of these is our mission:

To make business owners’ lives better through excellent financial management.

Our mission has meaning, it is required to be memorized by every employee in the organization, and we recite it and talk about our positive impact at every Monday Morning Meeting. We exist for a higher purpose rather than simply making money, and the TGG Mission is infused into every interaction.

Our principles also have meaning, and without going through all 7 principles, I will tell you that we discuss them all the time. They are required to be memorized, and we will ask people what principle applies to their particular problem and how they can use the principle to solve their problem.

Lastly, we require every meeting to start and end (exactly) on time. It may sound simple, but it shows people that their time is respected, and that they are a part of a team that depends them to start and finish on time.

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