Culture of a company — Chapter 1 — Do you have the right representatives for your culture — Part 2

Sathish Nagarajan
4 min readJul 29, 2022

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A recap of the first part of this article:

As companies focus on becoming more human-centric maintaining a great culture has become crucial. Culture is explained in different ways. Culture is creating a mentally safe environment for employees that gives them a sense of belonging and opportunities to grow. I started penning my thoughts on who propagates the culture in an organization, the managers of the company. They are the company's representatives and without them implementing the culture in their respective teams, it wouldn’t happen.

As custodians of culture managers have to have the following abilities:

  1. Knowing when to micromanage and when not to
  2. Identifying the right people for the right task
  3. Understanding success metrics
  4. Feel less insecure about themselves
  5. Knowing how to communicate, appreciate and criticize
  6. Knowing/learning nuances of the job

Here, I continue the rest of the article.

3. Understanding success metrics

You might ask what is the relation between success metrics and the culture of a company?

The answer is success metrics always give a sense of accomplishment when achieved which is needed for a team to be happy. Success metrics can also tell you where you stand as a team. The downside of not establishing a success metric can give a feeling to the team that the manager has changed the goal post after seeing the results. So a happy team needs to know whether they succeeded or failed in the activity that they started.

Understanding success metrics is also a basis of openness and competency a manager has towards their work.

4. Feel less insecure about themselves

There is insecurity we have as humans, which usually percolates into our daily jobs.

Different fears a manager could develop about the team members are

  1. when team members work on new initiatives result of which is not very certain and could put the manager’s job in jeopardy.
  2. team members could use the appreciation for their leverage
  3. team members might outperform the manager
  4. team members could judge the manager for certain insufficiencies which the manager might have

I listed some of the top ones above. I am making no judgment about whether the fear is right or wrong. Any fear is human nature and consciously handling it is evolution. Some of these fears are also because of the managers of these managers. So if you see the penetration can happen from the top of the company or it could also start anywhere in between in the hierarchy.

Working on these fears and feeling less insecure will let the team feel safe and be more productive than worrying about the manager’s judgment.

5. Knowing how to communicate, appreciate and criticize

Communication is key in any relationship. Openness in communication could result in better outcomes. There is always confusion between being nice and being honest. They are not mutually exclusive. Choosing to handle it carefully with utmost consciousness is important. As a manager, you might make mistakes while communicating, as soon as you realize acknowledging the mistake is also being open in communication.

Appreciation needn’t be for big things, it could be on anything which was not expected by the team member but when they do it. For eg: a person is expected to write an article, and a good article is the minimum expectation however if a detail in the article is outside the expectation, it has to appreciated. By giving appreciations then and there, your criticism would also be looked objectively by the team member.

Criticizing the job done and not the person is a great way to give a honest feedback. Other ways to give better feedback are by avoiding judgements on how the person wouldn’t change or avoiding pulling unrelated past mistakes into the conversation as an indicator.

6. Knowing/learning nuances of the job

A manager has to continuously learn and know the nuances of the job. When I say that knowledge can come from different places including conversing with team members. It is never wrong or less regarded to learn from team members. In fact, it is better to learn from the knowledge they acquire. Managers can still add great value by applying the knowledge that they gathered in the right circumstances. So knowing the nuances of the job will let them do this. This can propagate a positive, learning culture within the team that will further encourage learning between team members.

There could be 4 possibilities in a team

  1. company has an ideology of positive culture, manager practices negative culture
  2. company has an ideology of negative culture or that doesn’t care about the culture, manager practices negative culture
  3. company has an ideology of negative culture or that doesn’t care about the culture, manager practices positive culture
  4. company has an ideology of positive culture, the manager also practices positive culture

The fourth combination could be the best positive culture that a company could reap benefit from.

First is a toxic manager people would want to escape from, Second is toxic company culture, and third is a culture people would stick to the company just because of the manager (this is usually a very difficult one though).

Conclusion

Companies have to be cognizant of how their ideologies are propagated in the system. Their managers who are the representatives of culture should be trained enough to take it forward. If a company wants to build a great company with a great culture, complacency is its enemy and negligence is disastrous. Consciously and consistently working on various ideologies and improving is the only way to build a great culture.

It is good to see that we are trying to become more and more human, and I see these changes as a part of evolution.

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Sathish Nagarajan

Entrepreneur, Technologist, Marketer, Programmer, Speaker, WordPress Fan, Actor, Generalist. Cryptocurrency Enthusiast, Community Evangelist.