If These Walls Could Talk

Over the years I’ve had the privilege of visiting numerous art galleries and museums around the world. Included on the list are the National Museum of Art in Washington, D.C. and venues in other places like Boston, London, and Athens. Each have a certain appeal and allure that awaken the imagination with images and history that have enriched lives for centuries. How can one not glance upon the work of Monet, da Vinci, Raphael, or Picasso and not be inspired? The priceless pieces of work that hang on those hallowed walls is captivating.

Suppose the walls in your place of business or your organization could talk; if they could tell your story to the world, what impression would people come away with? If your place of business were to be a museum 100 years from now, what would be the main takeaway people would have about the work you did, the culture you practiced, and your contribution to those you served?

Glassdoor recently published its lists of the Best Places to Work 2016 (http://bit.ly/1lN0I2p). Companies making the list include Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Zillow, Expedia, Delta, and topping the list: Airbnb. The winners, according to Glassdoor are “determined by the people who know these companies best—their employees.” I encourage you to read the list and reviews for yourself. But here is a key take-away - people thrive where people are valued. If the walls of your organization could talk 100 years from now what would they say? The message a century from now is being scripted today. What is the message others will read about? Would you be embarrassed or proud? If your walls could speak, let these four things be your message.

It was a place with a purpose

Fundamentally the most important thing as it relates to your organization is to know your ‘why’. It’s as you operate in the capacity of this knowledge that everything else makes sense. Without it you are adrift and you will always struggle to find your way.

Howard Behar, former President of Starbucks writes, “At Starbucks, I’ve always said we’re not in the coffee business serving people, we’re in the people business serving coffee.” Once you know your ‘why’ your purpose becomes clear.

Let the walls talk about what a great purpose you had and that you leveraged every resource to fulfill it.

They were a people who cared

Many companies proclaim a strong company culture but fail to deliver. As such, trust is lost, morale is low, and productivity falters. Clearly stated, it’s not what you say that matters or makes the difference, it’s what you do. If the walls of your company could speak 100 years from now how would you be portrayed in terms of how you treated your people?

An employee review for MindBody (#14) in the Glassdoor article writes, “It’s a culture of happiness! I’ve never been in such a positive environment. Management encourages you not only professionally, but in personal aspects of life too. So thankful to work for such an amazing company!” Evidently, MindBody is a company that understands this concept and is putting it into practice. At the end of the day, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

Let the walls speak with fond recollection of a company who knew the importance of caring for its people.

They overcame adversity

Today we remember triumphal moments in history not because people like the Wright brothers failed, or Edison’s lab was destroyed by fire, or that J.K. Rowling’s script for Harry Potter was rejected about a dozen times, or that Disney was fired by a newspaper because he “lacked imagination and had no original ideas”, no- we remember them because they didn’t quit!

The success of your organization rests within the will, strength, and determination of its people, to stare down adversity and come through on the other side. It’s how every successful organization has done it and yours will not be an exception.

 Let the walls tell the story of hope and inspiration and that when adversity came you didn’t back down but instead rose to the challenges of your day.

They never stopped growing

Personal growth and development is the bread and butter of leaders. Leaders who are intentional about growing and developing rise to the top. At the heart of any successful business or organization is leadership that recognizes its importance at all levels. In order to remain competitive in this global economy one must never stop growing and learning.

A review for Hubspot (#4) reads, “Leadership places a heavy emphasis on employee growth across all divisions, from tuition reimbursement to offering opportunities to take on challenges outside your core responsibilities.” That sounds to me like a company that “gets it” and their employees applaud it.

Let the walls tell your story of relentless devotion to learning. Your commitment will ensure that your team has every resource and tool to compete and succeed. And wouldn’t it be nice if the walls would say, “They’re not done yet!"?

© 2016 Doug Dickerson, Doug Dickerson is an internationally recognized leadership speaker, columnist, and author. A Lowcountry resident, Doug is available to speak for your civic, business, or church group. To Learn more visit DougDickerson.WordPress.Com.

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