“This place could be dangerous.”
This is something that one of my past interviewers told me about the culture of his organization / team during the second or so interview at this financial services company. My initial thought on the statement was : “Thanks for the warning! Bring it on!”.
But then I asked a couple of more questions in terms of the ‘what’ dangerous meant?
In reading all of the self-help management literature that I have been exposed to over the past 20 odd years and the repeat mention of ‘strategies’ that have been unequivocal in stating the obvious that “You must move away from your comfort zone!” : How dangerous could this particular organization be?
So on further exploration I understood that:
- The particular team I was getting interviewed for into the position was a pretty high-pressure team and so people were on a different level of pressure compared to everyone else in other teams. So we are talking random four lettered words being used and the likes.
- So I was interviewing for a middle-management position and I was thinking to myself : “Good Gawd! There must be something sort of profanely important that these team was trying to achieve!”
- I wonder what the actual customer was like! “Gulp! Wouldn’t want to be in his / her’s shoes — waking every single morning and yelling at your IT Team!”. Hmmm… where have I heard this before!?
Anyway the interview was over and like every interview in the pre-Corona era I said my good byes to the HR contact and the interviewer and listened to their “ Well! We will get back to you!”.
Just then I knew it was a chance for me to rethink on whether to join the organization or not.
On the way back home, I was thinking of the several times that I have been in a tough position in life and work generally and what I was willing to take and what I wasn’t wiling to take anymore.
- Being nice is n̶o̶t̶ ̶a̶ ̶s̶k̶i̶l̶l̶ a choice you h̶a̶v̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶g̶o̶o̶d̶ ̶a̶t̶ make. If you are in your heart a fair individual and question everything around you so that you may grow as a person — the niceness is evoked automatically.
- Fit in or Flight Out! This is the worst kind of culture out there.
- Cultural Transformation?? What Culture? The leadership at an organization like that has not taken the true sense of the ‘diversity and inclusion’ topic at a cultural transformation level.
- Hierarchy dressed in the guise of a flat organization. There are some teams that still believe in the hierarchical way forward. This, in an era where every successful start-up believes in the speak-up culture and expect more break-through wacky ideas from their teams; these hierarchical teams have it cut out for them in the long term.
- Fear : The ‘fear will drive them to success’ mantra lost its edge at the beginning of this millennium.
So in conclusion, culture does eat strategy for breakfast everyday and in every team.
As l̶e̶a̶d̶e̶r̶s̶ fellow professionals we have a responsibility to the people we serve to build the right culture of acceptance, leadership, fairness, empathy and just becoming smart at dealing with the many situations life and work can throw at us… and by now all of us would appreciate that people do need every support they can get to, not just come through in the time of a crisis but to thrive in a crisis!
In the end people will always remember how you made them feel. Do good.