Would You Pass The Culture Test?

This week, I asked our team members to write down what they thought were the values and principles of our workplace. I did not give them definitions, examples, or a form to fill out. People were asked to write their ideas on an index card and turn them into me by the end of their shift. No discussion. No sharing.

This was a test of how well our leadership has communicated, through word and deed, the values and principles of our workplace. Our aspirations and the principles by which we live and work. How we treat each other and our customers, vendors, and competitors. What are the big ideas that guide us.

Everyone approached the issue differently, which pleased me. I would be concerned if my co-workers had recited identical platitudes.

I was touched, amazed, surprised, and dismayed. Touched by what team members wrote. Amazed that important ideas are being communicated well. Good job, boss. Surprised that we all missed some key issues. A wake-up call. And dismayed that I will have to live up to what are some lofty goals. Motivates me to be a better person in 2014.


Wordle.net was my obvious choice to create this portrait of the ideas the team collected. Their shared top picks made me very happy.

Your turn. Ask your employees, co-workers, customers, and/or bosses to write down what they think your workplace’s values and principles are. Don’t coach them what to say or how to say it. Limit their contribution to what fits on an index card. If you are lucky, you will be heartened and humbled like I was.