The Saturday Post: A Tale of Two Cultures

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In a recent conversation with a friend who is leaving one job and going to another, a stinging insight hit me. He expressed shock at the number of emails, Facebook friend requests, Linked In connects and Twitter followers had come his way from the new company he would soon be joining. I asked him what kind of response he got from the job he was leaving. He replied, “Five emails.”

In the example cited, a leader in each organization likely sent out a press release styled memo announcing the departure of my friend from the old company, and announcing his hiring in the new one. From that point the culture of the respective organizations took over. Why did the employees of the one company flood the incoming employee with words of welcome? Why didn’t the employees of the old company flood the employee with words of gratitude and blessing? I suspect the people in both organizations were basically the same. And it would be unfair to pin the blame on the employee himself and whether he deserved gratitude and blessing or not.

So why the difference?

We see in this instance a tale of two cultures; one healthy and the other sick.  The culture of any organization is the collective experience of hundreds if not thousands of small personal independent actions and responses of the individual people working there.

This example shows us how two defining moments in any organizations life reveal something of the essence of its culture. Moment #1: An Employees First Day. Moment #2: An Employees Last Day.

When someone leaves us do we throw roses, extend blessings, enact tangible good will and thereby “send” people into the next assignment of their vocational life…

or

do we get out the policy manual, reclaim our property, discontinue email service, lock them out of the information systems and otherwise systemically erase them from the administrative machinery of the organization?  (admittedly, some of this must be done, but it’s how it’s done that matters so much).

Are we inspired to generosity, gratitude and gift giving….

or

are we driven by scarcity, fear and cost containment?

Will we part ways with a new public agent of our disappointment….

or

will we send forth an ambassador of our good will?

Sometimes cutting costs actually costs us more in the undercutting of our culture.  

So here’s the question: Will we “send” people out with celebratory exuberance….

or

will we just “break-up” and part ways?

Here’s the kicker. The “sending” organization in this case was a “Christian” company. The receiving organization was not (or at least didn’t claim to be). It’s ironic. Sometimes it’s our churches and Christian non profit organizations who seem to have the worst cultures. Often, some of the most profit driven secularly oriented companies do culture best. Why is that?

Anybody leaving your organization soon? Anybody new people coming to join you? How about it? Your opportunity to be a culture maker beckons.

I’d be interested to hear about creative examples of how a person was sent out of an organization into a new job somewhere else. Share in the comments.

 

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