Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Emphasis on Culture

    Posted 02-28-2020 02:56 PM
    There was a great discussion post earlier this week on effective communication in the workplace. Another buzz word used frequently is culture. Building positive company culture is an effective tool for supporting your fellow coworkers. Company culture has different faces. I can be negative and positive. It can impact employee retention and morale.

    How do you contribute to your company's culture? In what way's does your company support it in a positive way? If these questions are too specific, how would you define company culture?

    Stephen Odom S.M.ASCE
    North Carolina State University
    Durham, NC

  • 2.  RE: Emphasis on Culture

    Posted 02-29-2020 04:51 PM
    Hi Stephen, thanks for the post and opportunity to share some thoughts on company culture.

    First, if I may, the expression you note as "effective communication in the workplace" needs a critical edit.

    The better and more complete expression is "Effective and Efficient"communication.

    These two words are the foundation of "P

    One means doing the right thing, and the other, doing it right.

    e.g., one could do the right thing, but unfortunately, do it wrong.

    And then, there is the statement "It can be negative and positive."

    Such descriptors are most usually used by a person who is either strongly 'for' or 'against' an issue.

    Perhaps more neutral descriptors might be 'conformance' and 'nonconformance' with reference to a stated behavior.

    Now, as to your question "How would you define company culture?," I favor the common, quite visible definition:

                       "Its the way we do thing around here."

    Now, this tosses aside the memos from 'Executive Row,' the posters on the walls asserting "Our People Are Our Most Important Assets,"
    and the like.
    Our people, in order to explain or define their company culture simply read and listen to the executives proclamations about it,
    and then observe the behaviors of the same group of senior and executive managers when confronted with "People/Process Issues."

    And as even very young children learn, behaviors trump memos, posters, and speeches every time!

    As Dr. W. Edwards Deming taught, "It's the system, not the people."

    And only executives have the power to change the system without first asking permission.

    But of course, I may be wrong.

    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880

  • 3.  RE: Emphasis on Culture

    Posted 03-01-2020 09:02 AM
    Thank you for sharing your advice. By the way, there is never a wrong answer here. These forums are intended to encourage others to share their experiences to grow individuals personally and professionally.

    Stephen Odom S.M.ASCE
    Durham NC

  • 4.  RE: Emphasis on Culture

    Posted 03-02-2020 10:09 AM
    I try to create positive company culture by showing others that I care about them. For example, I like to give out diapers and baby books (I look for ones that are engineering related) to my coworkers who are having new babies. Or, when someone achieves something - like passing the PE - we all find ways to celebrate. Last fall, one of my office-mates was taking the PE exam, so the rest of us put together a little goody bag for him to take to the exam. We threw in some jerky and candy and a bottle of water. It was simple, but it was an effective way for us to show him support as he took the exam. Later, when he passed, we all went out for an office happy hour to celebrate.

    I also look for ways to show support if I know a coworker is going through something difficult at home - like caring for a loved one who has an illness. Maybe I send them an encouraging note, or I take time to ask them how they are doing. I might even send them a meal.

    Kelly Farabee P.E., M.ASCE
    Guyton GA

  • 5.  RE: Emphasis on Culture

    Posted 03-09-2020 11:26 AM
    For me, one of the things I love most about the culture at my job is that we are invested in one another as people, not just coworkers. Those with young families share fun stories about their kids. We know, at an appropriate level, what people are going through outside the office that may be impacting their work.
    We try to share workload and jump in on someone else's project as needed so one person isn't drowning in work and therefore losing out on enjoying their personal time for extended periods.
    When I do college recruiting, students often ask me what the most important thing is to look for in a job. I usually say that the culture of the company or the group you will be with is at least as important as the kind of work they do. If I love my projects but hate going to work, that job is not a good fit. If I love the people and environment, I can likely find my niche within the work even if it isn't my dream task. I've been blessed to find an opportunity to do what I love with people I love.
    Our marketing group frequently reminds us, people like to work with people they like. This is applicable both within the company and with client interactions.

    My personal contribution to company culture is probably my efforts to make each person feel known and appreciated. I bake something for each birthday in our group. I make an effort to talk to people about more than just engineering. I make it a point to befriend those in the marketing, accounting, and admin groups -- They may not be engineers, but they are an integral part of our team.

    Our company makes an effort to encourage and support us doing things together outside of the office. Those bonding activities include community service, lunches, happy hour, celebrations, etc.

    Quick indicators of company culture you may be able to identify on an office visit are listed below. Not everyone will want the same culture, so find what works for you
    -What conversations are you overhearing? Is it all business talk?
    -What is the noise level in the office?
    -What is the work space setup? Open concept, cubicles, offices?
    -Are work spaces personalized or sterile?

    Heidi Wallace EI, A.M.ASCE
    Engineer Intern
    Tulsa OK

  • 6.  RE: Emphasis on Culture

    Posted 05-18-2021 12:57 PM
    Thanks @Stephen Odom for starting this thread. Great thoughts shared so far! I thought you might be interested in this week's Thursdays @ 3 on ​​ establishing and fostering a healthy workplace culture. We have a really great panel this week including @Jayvon Garth and @Preetindar Ghuman! I hope you can join us on Thursday, May 20 at 3pm ET. Register here! ​​​​

    Tirza Austin
    Manager, Online Community
    American Society of Civil Engineers
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive
    Reston, VA 20191