Surface and Hidden Cultures

dreamstime_xs_79148620I met a woman recently who works with companies to change their cultures.  It was an interesting conversation and it prompted me to think about company cultures that I have experienced.

One in particular comes to mind.  It was a skilled nursing facility with a very high turnover in the nursing department.  The turnover didn’t make sense because the facility was positioned well in the area related to pay and benefits.  Other departments in the facility did not have the same problem.  I don’t remember whether the administrator finally investigated the situation closer or if it was a new administrator, but the result was that although the nursing staff complained about being short-staffed and having to work overtime, in reality, they liked the extra pay.  To keep the overtime pay, they were driving away new employees.

In looking back on this situation, I realized that companies might have surface cultures and hidden cultures.  Of course, it can be argued that whatever is happening reflects the true culture.  But for the purpose of discussion, let’s use the terms surface culture, what it appears to be on the surface, and hidden culture, what it really is.

In the skilled nursing facility mentioned previously, one department, on the surface, appeared to share the culture the rest of the facility had with not wanting to be short-staffed and in making new employees feel welcome.  In reality, the department had a hidden culture that drove employees away.  On the surface, they talked the talk of wanting more employees.  Underneath, they didn’t and undermined attempts to retain, and maybe even attract, new employees.

What is the surface culture of your organization?  Are there any hidden cultures in your organization?  If you are not achieving the results you want in your company, is this worth investigating?

This same concept can be used in our personal situations as well.  Are there hidden cultures in your immediate or extended family?  Is the surface culture one of support but the hidden culture one of sabotage?

You Don’t Like It. Are You Sure?

dreamstime_xs_68280848I have never liked sales.  At least that is what I have been telling myself for years.  I like sales in that I like people to buy my books and speaking services.  I do not like trying to make the sale, however.  I don’t like sales and I’m not good at it.  Or so I have told myself repeatedly.  Something happened a while back, though, that has made me question the accuracy of what I have been telling myself my entire career.

I attend many book shows and conferences to sell my books.  Generally, the procedure is that the author is responsible for setting up her table, making the sales, collecting money, and packing up her stuff at the end.  This particular conference had an area set up as a book store with volunteers collecting the money.  All the authors had to do was drop off their books and collect the unsold ones at the end of the event.  The organization sent a check to the author later for the books sold.

At first I thought this was a great idea.  It meant that I could attend conference sessions instead of sitting at my table all day.  It also meant that someone else would be doing what I didn’t like—selling my books.

What I realized at the end, however, was that I missed not selling my books myself.  I missed not talking with the people that came to my table.  I missed not trying to find how my books could help them, or those they knew.  I also discovered that no one at the book store was going to try to sell my books.  They would collect money, but no one was trying to sell any of the books there.

I missed not selling my books.  Did that mean that I actually liked selling?  Did that mean that what I had been telling myself all these years was wrong?  Was it possible that I actually liked sales, but had convinced myself that I didn’t?  Maybe.  I’m still assessing the situation and the ramifications.

I think the most important question is “why?”  If there is something that we do not like, it can be very beneficial to ask ourselves why we don’t.  We may find out that there really isn’t any reason that we don’t like it, we have just convinced ourselves that we don’t.

Also, sometimes we may start out not liking something because it is new to us and so we aren’t that good at it.  It’s important, though, to regularly evaluate if how we feel has changed or if we are telling ourselves the same old story out of habit.

What things do you not like?  Are you sure you don’t like them or have you just convinced yourself that you don’t?

Business, Hobby, or Required Responsibility?

Business, Hobby, or Required Responsibility? (Video)

hWe do many things.  Most, perhaps all, can be divided into three areas:  business, hobby, or required responsibility.

The business area includes everything that we do for others that they are willing to pay us to do.  If we have a job, we get a paycheck in return for what we do.  The work we do has value to our supervisor or the company where we are employed.  If we are self-employed, our customers pay us to provide goods or services because these goods and services are valuable to them.  In my case, people pay me to speak at their conferences and they pay me for my book.

The hobby area includes those items that we do because we enjoy them, but no one is going to pay us to do it.  Or, they will not pay us very much.  Something to keep in mind is:  “Businesses are in business to make money.  If it does not make money, it is a hobby, not a business.”  (This is the best piece of information I learned at the University of Louisville when I got an MBA.)  I love to hike, but no one is going to pay me to go hiking.

Required responsibilities are those things that we are responsible to do for ourselves.  This includes everything from feeding ourselves to cleaning our homes to taking care of our pets and/or children.  No one will ever pay me to clean my own house; it is my responsibility.  And I will never pay someone to clean their own house; that is their responsibility.

With required responsibilities, it is our responsibility to see that they are done.  We can do them ourselves, or we can hire someone to do it for us.  We can clean our house, or hire a housekeeper.  We can mow our lawn, or hire a lawn service.  It does not matter which, so long as it is done.

How would you divide what you do?  What tasks are business, what are hobbies, and what are required responsibilities?

Business or Hobby?

Business or Hobby? (Video)

“Businesses are in business to make money.  If it does not make money, it is not a business.  It is a hobby.”

This was the most valuable piece of information I learned when I went to the University of Louisville for an MBA.  (If I could remember the professor’s name, I would give him the credit.  Unfortunately, I do not even remember the name of the class.)  This forced me to take a very critical look at my business at the time.  I have used it to assess my business many times since.

If you are self-employed, do you treat your business as a business?  Or do you treat it as a hobby?  Do you invest as much time into your business as you would if you were punching a time clock?  Or do you fit in time where you can between personal pursuits?

I know people who run their businesses as a business.  They put in the time and effort needed to achieve the success they want.  I know others who consistently let everything else come first.  It can be easy to do, especially if you work from home.  There are many potential distractions.

This may be hard to believe, but the ones who are most successful are those who treat it as a business!  They work extremely long, hard hours.  If you want a business, that is the price to pay.

If what you really want is a hobby, that is fine as long as you have another way to support yourself.  But at least be honest with yourself.  A simple question to ask yourself is whether or not you would pay someone else to do what you do throughout the day.

Do you have a business or a hobby?  Which do you want?  Do you need to make changes?