The 5 things I learned about culture that I didn't realise
Yesterday was a eye-opener for me. I saw an international team collaborated to make sure that their boss (aka me), knew how much they meant to each and every one of them. They went over and above, with every single person contributing in one way or another.
They made it personal, purposeful and elaborate, because they are as a team 'Marketing Eye' and they stand proud and loud.
I am an avid reader of psychology books and anything to do with culture. Every time we think we have nailed the culture thing, someone tries to bring it down. It's devastating to watch, but in some weird way incredibly interesting. The way people's minds work, the families they come from and how their childhood affects their futures - is fascinating to say the least. Yesterday, a young woman, who has been in Australia for a short amount of time from India shared her story of doing an internship with a company for 6 months, and how horrified she was that they asked her to get coffee. In India, she has house help, so getting coffee is not something she believes she should ever have to do.
While our interns at Marketing Eye don't get coffee, I explained that when I started I got coffee and I didn't have a problem with it. In fact, I did it for my first two jobs, and just took it as being part of the job description.
The difference isn't a will to succeed but in fact culture. She knows no different because she comes from a family where servants do everything, and a driver takes her where she wants to go. I can imagine living in Australia is quite a shock, but each day I know deep down she learns something new that gets her closer to being the person she wants to be.
Sharing stories is part of our culture at Marketing Eye. We do stand-up meetings and share how we feel and one thing that no-one knows about you, with a team of people every day. It does get hard to come up with the latter but each day someone shares something really meaningful that helps us understand them better.
No matter how much I read, or how long I have been in business, it didn't prepare me for the lessons I learned yesterday. There were 5 things that distinctively stuck in my mind:
Leadership can come from anyone and everyone
The person you least expect to show leadership, will be the person who surprises you the most. There was one standout person who led the pack in putting together the surprise for me yesterday and they thought about every detail and everything that I have ever shared with them. It was so important to her that yesterday I knew how much I was loved by the team.
Everyone has to be on-board to be successful
Yesterday didn't happen because of one person, and if a single person wasn't on-board in the whole occasion, it would have stood out. They each wrote personal messages to me, and we all know that when someone isn't on the team, they give a generic and reluctant message.
The one person that you feel you haven't connected with surprises you
There is one person who I have felt for quite some time was a bit complacent, and perhaps just didn't have as much chemistry with me. They didn't ever share what they were working on and I always felt as though I wanted that connection, and it made me try harder. What they wrote was so deeply personal and showed me that they not only saw me as an inspiring leader (which I am not sure that I am), but that I was fun and brought 'life' to the team.
I noticed a person in the room that was a bit quiet and it made me realise that perhaps I hadn't spent enough time with them. They are struggling with understanding English, and have come from Italy to do an internship. She is beautiful inside and out, but I think the work side of things is a struggle due to the English barrier. I know there is more I can do to help her and I need to understand better what she is trying to achieve out of her internship so that we make sure she walks away knowing that it has taken her a step closer to her career goals.
Your team sees your struggles
I hate to admit this, but sometimes I struggle. I have to put on a brave face every time I am in the office and for me that is hard work. The last day before I headed to the US for business, I was beat. We had our accounts system hacked, I had missed some important deadlines for projects to do with other business interests, and I was exhausted due to weeks without a good nights sleep. I knew on the last day, that I couldn't smile no matter how hard I tried. The number of staff that came up to me and put their arms around me and gave me a hug brought me to tears. Just like yesterday, everyone is open with showing affection towards me, and somehow they realise that when you are working on so many different projects, something has to give.
I want to be 'more' for my team. I want for them to realise all their dreams and to live happy and healthy lives. I cannot think them enough for creating their own affectionate culture, one that is all about caring and sharing. I love my team!