Collaboration is the second component of a great company culture. It’s about having a vision but also compromising for the greater good.
My imaginary boyfriend, Jon Stewart, once described collaboration by saying, “…you go, then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go. You go, then I’ll go.”
And we are all better for it.
But nobody collaborates at work when employees fight for a 3.8% merit increase. And nobody works with human resources professionals if we lie to our workers about a “fair and impartial performance review system” and act as if we’re doing them a favor by barely keeping their wages above inflation.
If you want to create a great culture, start with the basics. Try collaboration, which is rooted in trust. How do you get your workers to believe you? Well, as HR professionals, we could all start doing our jobs a little better.
What’s our job? Work isn’t a democracy. Employees are rarely shareholders with voting rights. We are the first line of defense against unchecked hegemonic corporate power run amok.
We are the descendants of the modern civil rights movement. Our jobs are cool. Our jobs are noble. We do important things like protect workers and end discrimination. We make history without making up fake stuff about culture.
But okay — you want to talk culture instead of trust and collaboration? I would ask: How many women serve on your board? How many LGBT leaders do you have? How many workplace accidents have you had? What does your HR data say about fair pay and equal opportunity in your company?
I could play this game all day, by the way. How many veterans have you hired? Do you hire burn victims and amputees? Do you have an outreach program to employ people with traumatic brain injuries? What are you doing to improve disabled and long-term unemployment in America?
Your job is to ensure that every employee — or applicant — is treated with respect and dignity. Not just the CEOs but the chief toilet scrubbers and the chief parking attendants, too. So praise good work across the board. Embrace organizational strengths. But be honest and transparent about your weaknesses — all of them — from hiring to promoting to paying people.
And stop trying to make culture a thing before you make collaboration a normal behavior in your workplace.