Transforming a passionate curiosity for people into a career in organizational culture.
Before I knew it was called culture, I was fortunate to direct a coworking space called CO+HOOTS. There I called it “community building” and I was passionate about bringing people together. My role included onboarding new members, facilitating member meetings, and hosting many community events. We put together a manifesto or credo, developed “Cohootian” lingo, and a shared vision. I didn’t know it at the time but I was actively curating and co-creating our organizational culture.
Fast-forward three years later, I discovered Delivering Happiness (DH). Born as a book written by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, DH is a culture coachsultancy that guides organizations in building sustainable happy cultures. DH does this through the lens of the science of happiness and positive psychology and has worked with 300+ companies to date.
But the big question you may have is, what is organizational culture? and what's the link between culture and happiness?
In my four years working at DH, I feel like I got my Masters in Culture. I went from not knowing what “organizational culture” was to heading up DH’s internal Culture Team and while my degree isn’t accredited by any ivy-league university, my experience is lived.
The following is my three-part journey in how I turned culture into a career.
CULTURE CURIOUS > CULTURE CHAMPION > CULTURE CONDUCTRESS
I always wanted to be on the Culture Team. From the moment I started working at DH, I could see how the Culture Team set the tone for the organization. Even as a remote team, they kept us feeling connected to one another and to the higher purpose of the organization. They oversaw our learning and development and kept us accountable to living our core values. While it wasn’t a full-time role, I saw how each team member was strategically placed and that they were the magical glue that held everything together in a meaningful and fun way.
The role & responsibilities of the Culture Team can vary dependent on the organization but in general they oversee the growth and development of the organization’s culture. They are the voice of the people and should be a balanced perspective of the whole. A few tactical ways the Culture Team oversaw our culture are the following:
At first I was CULTURE CURIOUS, simply eager to learn more and excited my company put such a high emphasis on culture.
1) CULTURE CURIOUS
Next, I became a CULTURE CHAMPION, someone who really takes initiative and lives the culture as defined by the Values & Behaviors set by the org. Again, it’s not just what you do, it’s the way you do it that matters most.
2) CULTURE CHAMPION
After three years of raising my hand and helping out, I was invited to become Culture Lead where I got to oversee and facilitate culture development. This was exciting for me because there were many ideas I had for how we might strengthen our culture including building a solid Communication & Accountability pact, increasing the effectiveness of our All Hands Calls, and creating more empathy and understanding for each person’s roles & goals.
3) CULTURE CONDUCTOR/CONDUCTRESS
After four years of this work, what I've discovered is that "People and Culture" is an entire field and that there is a whole world of learning to be had. Additionally, as we shift into a new paradigm of greater consciousness and awareness as a species, my sense is developing our emotional intelligence and rebuilding organizations with humanity at the center is more important than ever.
Today, my role has evolved even further into Culture Coachsultant where I serve as a facilitator and guide providing coaching and consulting to clients around the world ranging from healthcare organizations in the U.S. to education centers in Vietnam.
What I love most about this role is that as coachsultants we have the distinct opportunity to see people and organizations from the inside out. If the brand is what’s on the outside, the culture is what’s on the inside and I am passionately curious about exploring the inner workings of individuals and teams. Furthermore, I love supporting those individuals and teams during what can be vulnerable yet transformative times to grow exponentially and evolve consciously.
Lastly, what we say at DH is “culture is a journey” and it certainly has been for me. This work continues to unfold and reveal itself in new ways. Every organization has a unique culture DNA and I love helping them to bring that to life.
Is culture an integrated part of your organization? See how strong your culture is or how you can improve it: