Growing Up as a Mall Worker - Part 3

The culture of your organization is your greatest intangible strength. It acts as your filter for hiring and firing. It dictates the level of excellence you expect and what the norms are for your organization. Quick recap if you haven't read the other two posts this week. We tried selling women's clothing. That didn't work. Luckily we learned from our mistakes. We realized our products must line up with the skills of our team members. If they didn't line up, then we had issues of lost sales and an unmotivated team. This was a great lesson for us in the necessity of intentionally shaping our culture.

We knew the people working for us were not going to stay for a career. It wasn't the nature of the business. It was a great job for young guys that didn't mind traveling to small towns for trade shows on a regular basis. It was not a good fit for someone trying to start a career or fund a 401(k).

Part of shaping your culture is knowing your team and knowing what they want. By defining the type of culture we wanted to create, it helped shape the types of people we looked to hire, as well as what we did to create an environment to represent the culture.

The company was based on toys and novelty items, so we hired people who fit that type of personality. We setup a basketball goal in the back of the warehouse to give the guys a place to relax. Office hours were very flexible. Someone had to be there during the day to answer the phone and great the occasional person that would walk in the front door, but most of the real work happened late at night till early in the morning. This also explains why so many practical jokes happened in the office.

I grew up around guys at least 10 years older than me. I thought this was normal. The culture of the organization had a significant influence on my life. In a way, I was raised partially by a small group of guys that acted like big brothers.

The culture of your organization creates the memories people have. People remember other people. They remember the jokes and how they were treated. They probably don't remember exactly how much they were paid, but they remember how they felt. They remember how they were treated. Like I said at the start, the culture of your organization is your greatest intangible strength. It shapes your organization and creates memories in the minds of everyone that interacts with your organization.

Bryan Clifton

Oklahoma City, OK