By. Matt Monge, Mazuma Credit Union & The Mojo Company
Mr. Rogers was a former Navy Seal. Gum takes seven years to digest. Refrigerating batteries makes them last longer. Facebook is going to start charging you next month. Hair grows back thicker after it’s shaved.
What do the above have in common? You’re smart folks, so I’m sure you put it together. They’re myths that are still widely accepted by many as legit.
Do you happen to remember the first time you realized some of the above were myths? For some of you that happened a long time ago; for others, maybe it was twelve seconds ago. (OK, fine. Until I was reading stuff for this post, I actually believed two of those myths in the first paragraph; and no, I’m not telling you which two.)
Myths affect us, right? The heights of the euphoria and immense sense of relief that swept over you when you realized that Facebook wasn’t going to begin charging you were matched only by the extreme depths of disappointment that pained your very soul after you came to know that Mr. Rogers wasn’t a stone-cold killer underneath that cardigan.
Just like myths exist in pop culture, so too do they exist in the business world. Let’s take a quick look at a handful of myths relating to credit union culture.
1. Developing culture is a one-time event or project.
Culture development is an ongoing thing, whether you’re actively managing it or not. There are certainly culture-related projects that may have timeframes attached to them, but culture itself isn’t something that’s somehow completed in six months or a year because it’s not a thing that’s ever completed in the way we normally use that word. It is, and will continue to be, constantly evolving.
2. Culture doesn’t really have any bottom-line impact.
This one used to be much more believable than it is now. However, research and case studies and stories that show correlations between culture-related issues and organizational performance continue to pile up. They continue to point to the fact that culture has a real-world impact on the organization’s ability to operate at a high level.
3. Hiring for “culture fit” or “core values fit” means you’re basically hiring people to be Stepford employees.
People sharing values does not necessitate them expressing those shared values in the same ways. You having a positive attitude will look different than your teammate having a positive attitude, but that doesn’t mean that either of you is somehow more or less positive than the other.
For one person, it could mean scampering down the hallway, whistling show tunes, handing out candy like it’s a parade, and sprinkling employee-morale-boosting pixie dust all over the place—all at the same time. For another it could be a far more subtle but just as positive and sincere attitude that’s expressed through kind words to a teammate that no one but that teammate hears.
We don’t at all want credit unions filled with core-value-regurgitating robots. We do want to work with folks whose values, mission, and purpose are similar to ours because we know that increases the likelihood of a mutually beneficial relationship between them and us.
4. There’s one precise culture formula or template that works for everyone.
Oh how I wish this were true. However, organizations are made up of humans, and are consequently as unique and complex as you’d expect a group of humans to be. They have their own group norms, customs, dynamics, structures, power dynamics, politics, posture towards innovation, and so on.
Every credit union will move and shake and respond and evolve differently than any other credit union, for better or worse. What works at one credit union may or may not work in the same way or even at all at another credit union because specific tactics have to be tailored to specific organizations.
5. The CEO and/or Executive Team owns culture.
People sometimes say culture is a top-down thing, and in some sense this is true; but really, it’s not just the Executive Team’s job to drive culture; it’s everyone’s job to drive culture. It’s everyone’s thing.
So hey, all of us believe myths at one point or another. (Remind me to tell you about this Nigerian prince I got to help the other day!) But every once in a while it’s good to take a quick step back, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that Facebook’s not going to start charging you next month.