“The world is about to end, dad!” Those were the words my 8-year old son exclaimed a few weeks ago. Of course, he’s not the only one feeling that way right now, even if it’s a distant or suppressed voice in the back of our minds.
I don’t have to recap everything that the government, news, and social media is daily blasting at us on full volume. Everybody everywhere is feeling uncertain. As if the social and health concerns aren’t enough, employees are also having to deal with the uncertainty of their jobs. With the skyrocketing unemployment rate and shuttering business rate, this is a compounding concern that leaves many feeling helpless.
As much as it may not be the first thought on most managers’ minds — after all, managers are dealing with the same types of uncertainty — as a leader of people, company culture is especially critical in times of crisis like these.
Of course, culture isn’t built overnight. You can’t start saying your team’s culture is important only when tensions and tribulation start to rise. It takes commitment, intentionality, and time. It requires psychological safety, vulnerability, and shared purpose. In short, it’s work.
At Journeyage, we’ve used this prolonged (and ever-extending) time of crisis to reinforce what we’ve already labored diligently to establish. We’ve aimed to cultivate the same type of fun and communication remotely that we once enjoyed in-person. We’ve taken time to give back to the community by creating free resources for other people trying to navigate both COVID-19 and how to apply for PPP loans through the CARES Act. We used Juneteenth to facilitate conversation around racial inequity and what part we can individually and corporately play in anti-racism moving forward. And those are just a few of many examples.
Talking about and taking action in these areas doesn’t eliminate uncertainty within the world, but it can help alleviate what everybody is feeling. Having people who you know have your back and encourage you to take the time to voice your concerns are paramount to the psychological safety and demonstrable support we all desire in times of unrest. That goes for everybody.
So how do you build this type of culture?
That’s a much bigger and more complex question that deserves much more time and attention to unpack. There’s no one answer, and we’re not perfect ourselves. But we are doing our best, and we’re learning as we go.
The reason this is so essential to us at Journeyage is that, for us, culture comes first. We hire for it. We emphasize it in everything we do. We prioritize employees first and shareholders last. Even our purpose to love and learn speaks to our shared value for a relationship-minded culture. In fact, we call this purpose our north star.
It’s not lost on us that love isn’t something a lot of businesses talk about. But to us — to me — it’s the most important thing we can be focused on as a business. To emphasize the importance of this people- and culture-first mindset, we have a saying within our tribe: All hearts, all heads, all hands, all in.
While many businesses already use the “all hands” vernacular, companies need more than brute strength and people to drive results in the face of conflict. We need hearts that believe in the work being done. We need everyone’s heads creatively and collaboratively solving problems. And we need every single person to feel the conviction to say, no matter what else is going on in the world, “We’re all-in.”
At Journeyage, we’re all in. And as a diverse but unified tribe, we know exactly how we’ll come out on the other side of this time of crisis better and stronger than how we entered it — together.
What about your team?
How are you reinforcing a safe, vulnerable, and purpose-driven culture during this time of crisis? What are the most important precepts of your culture?
This article was originally posted on LinkedIn.