A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the idea of “cultureboarding.” The concept being that organizations need to educate new hire employees about organizational culture. Preferably during their onboarding process.
Culture + Onboarding = Cultureboarding
After publishing the post, I discovered that some people found the term to be less than perfect. It reminded them of “waterboarding” and “brain washing”. One person said the term had a strong “drink the Kool-aid” vibe. Those comments really made me step back and think.
First, about the importance of words. I’d like to think everyone believes giving employees the tools to navigate in a new organizational culture is important. And it’s better to give employees the tools on Day One versus waiting until an employee makes a culture faux pas. So conceptually, I’m sure we’re all on the same page.
That being said, if the term conjures up a negative image…it will be tough to get buy-in. For example, when you greet someone, we often ask “How are you?” And many times a person will reply with “Excellent. Thank you.” I once did a consulting project with a company that had trained employees to always say “Excellent. Thank you.” to guests. As a result, “Excellent. Thank You.” became a negative reply. I know – hard to believe. But it’s true. We have to think about the words we use (and mash together) because what we call something is important.
The second thing I thought about is employee loyalty. I know of very successful organizations that want employees to “drink the Kool-aid” and I mean that in the nicest way possible. (Not in a Jonestown way.) After all, isn’t that the foundation of high employee engagement? The organization wants an employee to buy-into what the company is doing and how they make it happen. They want employees to be brand ambassadors. The company is totally loyal to their employees and they want employee loyalty for them.
It makes me think that cultureboarding is exactly the right term. The organization wants employees on board with the company culture. All in. 100 percent. This doesn’t mean employees can’t express concerns or suggestions for improvement. Those conversations are a normal part of healthy business conversation.
Maybe being an employee and raving fan is okay. Yes, you have to find the right words. And some people might not like the words you choose. The key is finding employees who believe the way the organization communicates is on target.
Image of Vince Vaughn courtesy of Unfinished Business0