I could hit you with a bunch of bullet points about what makes bad work culture, but I think stories are more powerful. I’ll try to keep these short.
###The Story Of Mr. Hold My Hand While Being Super Awkward
This is the story of a fresh from college hire that initially passed our interview process, but totally failed at doing any work. The guy had many idiosyncrasies and no filter on what they said. Professionalism is overrated, but this person was so devoid of it that the I realized that I valued it more so than I previously imagined. Specifically, Mr. HMHWBSA drew too much attention in a bad way from the rest our team. Coming in to work each day was rich with discussion of “did you hear?” and “can you believe?”. It went from honest blunders to offending other people. Had this been the only issue, it could have been mitigated with tact. Unfortunately, Mr. HWHWBSA was not able to finish setting up his computer for development after sucking everyone else into the process for over a week. The two weeks that followed were a continuation of hand holding and getting nothing done. He was fired.
The moral of the story is that talent and culture fit are equals if you care about good work culture. A wizard worker that cranks out product but pisses everyone off will slow you down. A person the meshes amazingly well with your team yet can’t get anything done will slow you down. You need both.
###The Story Of The Worst Manager Ever
My previously employer opened my eyes to the power of good work culture. I observed that when you have a group of people that A.) Love what they are doing B.) Are great at what they do C.) Have a mostly positive attitude, the natural result is AWESOMESAUCE. Not only do people love coming to work but what they are achieving is incredibly valuable. Initially I loved the team I was on. We were autonomous. We were trusted. Though we were overwhelmed with work. We moved forward and did what we had capacity to do. Then we got a new manager that did not trust us, that did not give us autonomy, did not give recognition, and took credit for other peoples hard work. The result was that people loathed coming to work. Why wouldn’t they? They were not appreciate and not empowered. Our manager seemed to believe that you were there for a paycheck and as long as you were getting paid he could walk all over you. That belief dismantled any hope of quality output and employee retention. Eventually, everyone left that team, myself included, whether transferring inside the company or leaving.
The moral of the story is that believing that everyone just shows up for paycheck is a self fulfilling prophesy. Don’t be that manager. If you are a manager, empower your people. Encourage a work environment that people enjoy, trust them, and get out of their way. Your measure of success is not how well you tell people what to do, its how well you set your team up to successfully achieve its goal. If you don’t trust them, you should never have hired them.
###The Story Of Mr. Highly Opinionated
This story has to do with someone that I have never worked with. However, their exit from the company was so anticipated that it has been celebrated ever since. From what I have heard, this person was a “know it all” type. Extremely knowledgable, but the application of that knowledge had a net negative impact on the work culture. Specifically, Mr Opinionated made meetings longer than they needed to be in order to expound the brevity of his knowledge. Mr. Opinionated complained about other peoples code, which is excusable except for the fact that Mr. Opinionated wrote code was unreadable to anyone else.
The moral of the story is that humility goes a long way. Not having it puts your personality in the way of efficient communication, business value, and results.