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The secrets to unlocking a great workplace culture 2

I often get asked, “what makes your culture at Journey Digital so good?”. I feel like I am obliged to give a quick, concise answer, as though having a great company culture is easy to explain and achieve – but it isn’t.

A great company culture is realised over time and made up of 1001 little and massive things, which all have to somehow – magically – work together.

Culture can be strategised, hired for, nurtured and even policed, but ultimately, the fate of a company’s culture rests in the hands of each employee. All you can do (if you work in a Human Resources role) is work hard to create the right environment where a great culture can flourish.

Over a series of three blog articles, I will attempt to distil some of the goodness that makes up the company culture at Journey Digital (Auckland, London), where I feel proud to lead the People & Culture team.

Secret #2: Your non-negotiable

In Secret #1, I looked at how Journey Digital’s interpretation of Jim Collins’ ‘flywheel effect’ helped create the bedrock for our thriving company culture.

In his book, ‘Great by Choice’, Jim Collins expounded another business concept called ‘SMaC’, which stands for Specific, Methodical and Consistent. This acronym refers to the ‘non-negotiables’ in your business. These are things you will never compromise; they will help you make decisions quickly and easily without consultation, and they are what you will do, irrespective of the conditions in which you operate.

At Journey Digital, we have company values which underpin everything we do, and one of those values is ‘Be a Radiator’. This value is all about radiating positivity, focusing on solutions rather than problems, and bringing your best self to work.

Being a radiator is one of Journey’s SMaC-led non-negotiables when it comes to recruitment. When we interview candidates for a role, we can pretty much tell, within the first few minutes, if a person is a radiator or not, and therefore whether they will be suitable for Journey. Then, because we know that radiating is non-negotiable, we agree that no matter how skilled the candidate is, if they are not a radiator, they will not make it onto the Journey team.

In practical terms, the outcome of that SMaC non-negotiable decision is that every single person on the Journey team is a radiator. Everyone pulls in the same direction; everyone supports each other, and if there are niggles or clashes between team members, the issue usually resolves quickly.

The consequence of hiring a non-radiator could be destructive to our team culture. This person might suck the energy from our team, create discord, or cause our fabulous radiators to resign. That’s a price we are unwilling to pay, no matter how desperate we are for someone’s skills.

Do you have non-negotiables for your business or organisation? Do you have the guts to stick to them? Could any of your non-negotiables be crucial to the health of your team culture? It’s worth thinking about!


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