In this episode, Josh examines work place norms and group habits that influence the behavior of employees. Find out exactly how these can either motivate, or demotivate employees.

Group Habits that Drive Behavior | Episode #27

[00:00] Welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast where your host, Josh Sweeney, will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals, and company culture aficionados, the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.

Josh: [00:17] Hello, my name is Josh Sweeney and welcome to the Epic Company Culture Podcast. Today we’re going talk about motivating and demotivating through various company norms, those things that are written and unwritten that just happen in your organization. Before I get started, I’d like to thank Prototype Prime for this great podcasting room. If you’re not familiar with Prototype Prime, they’re a technology co-working space in Peachtree Corners, Georgia, and I recommend that you take a look and check them out.

[00:45] So what are the little things that drive behavior? What are these unwritten norms that come into place that either motivate or demotivate people in the organization and employees? I’ll give you a little story about one that motivated me early on in my career. So often you hear me refer in my podcast to EO, the entrepreneur organization that I am in and when I joined that organization, I joined what’s called their accelerator program. Their accelerator program is a program for company founders that are between two hundred and fifty thousand and a million in revenue and it’s a three-year program to get them up over a million dollars in revenue. Well, when you go to events you’re going to events with accelerators, strategic alliance partners, other EO members and the full program that are million dollar plus, and when you show up, you get a badge and it’s a very nice metal, magnetic badge and it has your name engraved on the front of it, and one thing that I noticed early on was that I had a different badge, alright, so seems like a little thing and it really is, but it’s one of those things that you just notice. It’s the little things, as I mentioned earlier. So my badge was red and all of the other EO members that are million dollar plus founders had black badges, and then I noticed some other badges like gold and white and some various other colors. So this was something that was just part of the organization. You got a badge when you came on board and it had a certain color and then you started to understand what those meant, and the red badge was for accelerator. So immediately, although I had met $250,000 plus in revenue and was in a top group of founders for organizations because many don’t even make it that far, I already had this red badge and I really wanted a black badge. Now there was lots of other motivating factors for me to grow to a million dollar company, and I did over about a year and a half. It took me about a year and a half to go from two hundred and fifty thousand to a million, but one of those little factors, one of those little things was, I not only wanted the revenue of course, but I wanted to be in the full organization and I wanted a black badge. I wanted to be part of that group, and so that was one of the little motivating factors that nobody really talked about, nobody highlights. It’s just one of those things that you notice that sets action or creates action on behalf of in that case, myself.

[03:18] Now, there’s other ways that this happens most likely in your environment and other businesses that I’ve seen. One way that I see this is the suggestion box so years ago and in certain environments, you still have the suggestion box where you write something and put the card in the box and I’m not talking about in a hotel or anything like that. I’m talking about in your organization where you’re having employees create suggestions for the work environment and you may still have a box or a lot of times it’s a form online that is posted and people often forget about and they put in the suggestions and a lot of times you see these suggestions end up being a black hole. The suggestions come in and from there they disappear. A lot of times you don’t even get a response like, “Hey, we got your suggestion.” It’s not even the autoresponder. It’s just that it goes away, and what happens is, is that’s another one of those little things where the business is actually reinforcing that they don’t want any more suggestions. Now it’s not explicitly said, but if I’m making many suggestions as an employee and I’m getting zero feedback and don’t know where it’s going and there’s never an outcome, well eventually I’m just going to stop giving any sort of suggestions. And so that’s one way to do it.

[04:33] Whereas we were working with another organization — it was Digital Craft — we were shooting the Company Culture Check video series that’s going to be on YouTube, interviewing other people about their company culture and they have a process called “start, stop, continue” and you’ll see it in the video, but they ask people about what they should start doing, what they should stop doing and what they should continue doing, and in a lot of those, when those suggestions come in, they go into a system that’s actually managed and they respond to each item. So if somebody recommends that they start doing something, they’re going to get a response from the team, whoever’s managing that in their organization, their culture leaders and their management, around the suggestion. So they’re getting immediate feedback: “Hey, that’s a great suggestion. We want to hear more. Tell us about this, this, and this.” So they dig in and get that employee who suggested it, they get them to think further into it, and then on top of that, they also have other feedback loops where they get to vote those up and it’s a very well-managed process. And if it’s something that they’re not going to do, they don’t just say, we’re not going to do that. It doesn’t get shut down. It gets postponed till later or they let them know, “Well we think that’s a great idea, but here’s some of the business factors of why we might not be able to take action on that, and here’s some other things that we’re working on.” So it’s a very collaborative, for lack of a better term, suggestion box. There’s a whole different way that that’s managed.

[06:07] So in that, there’s all these little things that happen in the business from the suggestion box to badges or the type of office space people have as people want to work up to different office spaces. Some people just want to work up to a private office. They want that management style. They want that private office. They want to have what that comes with. There’s all these little motivating and demotivating factors that happens as a company norm. So what we want you to think about is what are the written and unwritten rules? What are the little nuanced items that motivate or demotivate your employees?

[06:47] Thank you for tuning in to today’s episode of the Epic Company Culture Podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe on iTunes, Soundcloud, or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit epicculture.co. If you have questions or topics you would like us to address or expand on, tweet us at @epicculture1 or email at podcast@epicculture.co.