culture shock

I was speaking with a buddy today about the how cultures in the work place differ from one place to another.  A while back my buddie’s company hired a senior management guy who came from a company best known for making microwaves, washers and driers, but they have a huge money management wing as well… and they are the prominent punch line of one of my favorite TV shows, also, unless I have my timeline wrong there is a popular grape juice brand named after their former CEO … anyway I’m just being coy … no more hints  🙂

So, while we were talking he told me that although the responsibilities of the job were very similar, the culture was completely different. When this guy joined-up (we’ll call him Jack) he brought the culture that he worked in for 15 years with him, Jack took people out for long lunches, scheduled long meetings to talk about scheduling other meetings, wrote 5 page long emails to huge distribution lists that kinda told people what they already knew… and that sort of stuff. Well, my baddie’s company has a different culture entirely. They don’t like meetings, they rarely have phone calls, they love to all work remotely – although they value face-time, it is relatively common to work from home… and they get to go home when the work is done.. so they try to keep their day short and to the point, no long emails, lunches, or meetings.

Well, Jack, being the seasoned executive type adapted, and pretty fast at that, he learned that the way he was doing things back at his old company were causing friction at his new one. He changed a lot, the company changed a little and they found a happy balance and are now living happily ever after. Which is a cool and happy ending …. However, the seriously awesome part of this story is something entirely different.

How does a man who is stuck in his ways know when it’s time to change?

Remember Jack is crazy successful… and he’s got plenty of validation of that. He spends his life signaling his status in life. He drives a fancy car, lives in a fancy apartment, dresses in fancy suits, and gives orders to fancy people – and its all well-earned –  he has the gift of taking a dollar, adding a dime, and getting 5 dollars back… that right there is a skill! No doubt Jack is smart and he might even have the ego to mach. So how did he flip the switch from “I know what works better than these guys” to “these guys might know better than me” – now that’s a hard switch to flip for most people, never mind a person like Jack.

So this being the first Cangrade blog post I think its kinda necessary talk a little about Cangrade.. and here seems to be a good place for a segway 🙂 The unique trait that Jack had .. which is significantly separated from his other traits is something called “agreeableness” which is a person’s ability to be accommodating to other people. This trait is different form his intelligence, his love of fancy cars, and it’s even separate from his love of being right.

A lot of senior management types do not have this trait and if my buddie’s company hired Bill from a competitive firm, and Bill wasn’t high in agreeableness, this story would have had a completely different ending… which would have inevitably involved lawyers and a lot of hurt feelings on all sides.

The point?

Simple.

Use Cangrade if you want to know how well a person can adopt to your companies culture 🙂

 

  2 comments

  1. ggoren ggoren   •  

    Nice job Mike, and congrats on the first blog (even though I though the first blog was mine – the “hello world” one 😉

    I wonder though if on the flip side an individual like Jack can change a culture of an organization if their agreeableness is low

  2. Avatar mike   •     Author

    well, I figure a man can move a mountain, if he’s got enough drive and time 🙂

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