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Cultivating People to Preserve Company Culture

Preserve Company Culture with a Deliberate and Intentional Focus


I once worked with a company that had, hands down, the best corporate culture that I've ever seen anywhere. I so loved working with this client because they truly cared about growing their people. They truly cared about their customers and their vendors and their suppliers. They took great pains to create a culture where every single person felt a sense of purpose. They understood the mission, they felt like they belonged, and that they were working towards some higher purpose. And it was amazing to see how hard people worked and how committed they were because they were so engaged by that culture.

Now, culture doesn't just happen organically, culture happens deliberately. And in this organization, it was the CEO who drove that culture. He was very deliberate, but not clinical. He was very people focused and he worked hard to bring the best out of every single person. He challenged people and he had high expectations for people, but he also cared about them and they knew it.

It was shocking to see just how quickly that culture changed. When the CEO stepped down, somebody else came in to take his place. And the business, which was in high growth mode, focused heavily on the results instead of keeping their focus on the people who drove those results. Things didn't take long to deteriorate. The entire culture changed. The vibe was different, the way people interacted with each other was different, and the results, sadly, were different too.

What happened there is that something everyone had started to take for granted. The culture, it wasn't protected. When you've got a good thing going in your business, you have to recognize it and protect it and defend it. If you're going to make big changes in the business, you have to protect what it is that made the business special to begin with. Mergers and acquisitions and changes at the top and opportunities for growth, these can all be extremely good, positive things, but don't assume that that's enough to carry the business forward.

It's the people who got you here, it's the culture that made you attractive, and you can never ever take those for granted. Instead, work hard to defend them, protect what you've got. Even if it means slowing down your growth just a little bit, it'll be worth it.

I will do just about anything to protect my plants. When it's cold and there's going to be a late season frost or an early season frost, if I still have plants growing in the late season or if they haven't had a chance to take hold in the early season, I'll be out there with blankets and cups and doing everything I can to protect them from the elements. 

Recently we were about to have a very big wind and thunderstorm and I didn't want my lavender to get beat up.  It was still maybe one or two days away from the peak time to harvest it and I didn't want to take a chance. So I went ahead and snipped off about three fourths of it. And I'm glad I did, because the rest did get quite battered.

Inside, before I transplant out into the straw bales, I'm also pretty protective. You'd think that was a safe environment. Heating mats, grow lights and indoor environment. But even indoors, if the temperature doesn't maintain, if the watering isn't being done on a timely basis and that sometimes happens if I'm traveling, I've got to be out there looking out for these plants. They're too new, they're too fragile to do it on their own.

And even if they weren't, you know, they are counting on me and more importantly, I'm counting on them. So I want to protect them in every possible way. I might go overboard. For example, we have our straw bales on gravel. That's intentional. It's in a good sunny spot. But the fact that it's on gravel protects them from bunnies and deer getting up there and trying to eat the plants. Deer don't like to walk on gravel, but I have seen them do it.

And I figure if they get hungry enough or if they figure out all the goodness that's up here in these straw bales, that they might chance it. So I also plant marigolds inside the straw bales on the sides of them. By the end of the season, they wrap around the straw bales and they're just absolutely beautiful. But I do this because they're a natural repellent. They repel some bugs, but they also repel rabbits and deer. And I put those marigolds in there because not only are they a protection, but they also beautify the garden. Gravel and straw bales, well, you know, they're not the most beautiful thing to look at, so I put a little extra in there and that protects the beauty of the property as well.

I think it's hardest to protect what you've invested in. If you don't know what the threats really are. You could easily mistake any of these bugs as potential threats to your plants. But actually, these ones are harmless. They're not going to eat much and they're going to do more good than they will do harm. We want to be able to pollinate our plants and we want these dragonflies because they eat the bugs that actually would be a much greater threat to the plants.

What we have to be careful of are the real predators, the ones who could do significantly more harm. Knowing the difference and not treating all threats as the same is important no matter what you're growing. So what are the threats to the people in your business that you want to take care of? What are the threats that you want to protect them against? You need to know and then you need to be proactive. Don't wait until it's too late until the damage has already been done.

Take care of the people that you want to take care of you.