We did an interview with office culture and politics expert Jocelyn Greenky. From generational dynamics, politics, and culture to leadership, productivity and coaching, her expertise was built through real-life, practical experience interacting closely with global C-Suite leaders, executives at all levels, and those in the creative field.
She is also the co-author of the fun and informative, Simon & Schuster international best-seller, The Big Sister's Guide to the World of Work: The Inside Rules Every Working Girl Must Know
We talked about leadership, office environment and gender equality.
„Any well managed organization starts from the leaders," she said: „The leaders set the tone, culture and business requirements for every department and employee."
In Weekdone, we wholeheartedly agree that there's a need to turn more attention to both gender equality and how leaders can tackle the problems of changing office dynamics.
To find out how to do it best, continue reading the interview.
Maintaining company culture.
In your blog, you wrote that "it's up to all of us to narrow the communication gap in the cross-cultural workplace." But who is responsible for maintaining company culture? Is it something only managers must keep an eye on, or are employees responsible for fitting in?
„Maintaining company culture is not just an human resource responsibility but a leadership one. Leadership will engage and execute the mission and objectives of the company. Employees are responsible for working towards fitting in if they can. In fact, employees must take their time to understand the culture and work towards fitting in with leadership and their colleagues. It's incredibly tricky because for some new employees, they need time to grasp the overall view of the company and the employers are looking for the new employees to jump start immediately. Perception is reality and some employees may be too slow to join or over anxious and misstep.
Either way, that doesn't mean employees will or can fit in. It means they need to take the time to understand what the company culture is and adapt over time or not if the company provides that time to fit in.
It will be a group effort moving forward because every single company will be comprised of different cultures and ages."
What is your definition for "good office culture"?
„Corporate culture that might seem like nothing more than marketing hype to you, should be the primary factor that determines how you behave in the office. Corporate culture is not just what a company says about its environment. It's the ego ecosystem of your day-to-day reality.
The truth is, when it comes to office politicus, you have to sweat some of the small stuff.
Any time you introduce an obvious change to a highly codified culture to which you are a newcomer, no matter how minor, will be seen as alien behavior. And you might just find yourself being left in the dark about a lot of what's going on around you as a result. It's so simple to inadvertently criticize what you find in a culture you are new to."
A chance-maker's example.
„A client, Barbara, a sales account executive for a handbag manufacturer, started a new job, and immediately began making suggestions to her fellow sales people and other co-workers about how to improve the office environment and the business itself.
From her first day on the job, she wanted to change the way everything was done. Barbara began rapidly firing memos to execs about how the processes should be altered and improved, what software they should all buy to be more efficient, and on and on. She kept it up for a month, and then became conscious of the resentment that was building around her.
What she saw as being passionate, helpful and enthusiastic, her colleagues saw as attacks on how they have managed the business before she arrived. Essentially, she was slamming them. Barbara never managed to heal those relationships and left the job within four months; none of her suggestions had been taken."
Entering a new office culture.
„When you enter a new culture, if you see areas for improvement, you must be careful to introduce your ideas gradually, and when you do so, be sure that you are sensitive to the fact that what you have found at the new job is the result of someone's decisions and someone's work.
If you refuse to fit in, you should get out. Understanding the ego ecosystem will help you avoid stumbling into culture craters that you thought were little divots.
Not only that, but you will also discover how to put yourself in the right place at the right time, scratching the right backs so you can shine like Sirius, the brightest star in our galaxy. Each office culture has it's own time zone, its own concept "regular hours" and, there isn't any such thing as standard office time. Understanding the time culture in your organization is of the essence. A given office might have any number of time zones, and you need to adjust yourself to each one you deal with. For example, the subculture reflected in your division or department might have a very different dynamic than the overall culture your parent company."
You have talked about how different generations must work together in a workplace. But why shouldn't leaders only focus on generation y and younger people as they will make up most of the workforce very soon?
„Great question. There are currently 5 generations in the workplace. This is the first time in history that this has existed. The reason we need to focus on generational dynamics is that people are living longer, [their] savings are shorter, people want to work longer and they have to work longer to sustain themselves.
As time marches on, of course, each generation gets smaller but that's not in the near term."
Based on your experience, have most companies managed to adapt to the modern y office culture that is dominated by technology and the millennials.?
Depends on the company. Most companies are forced to engage with technology.
I have been consulting with various companies in the last 12 months who use outdated technologies and old hardware but the companies are running and earning millions of revenues.
Not all companies have a majority of millennials working in them either.
It's industry by industry that has engaged millennials and of course, what industries interest millennials."
What do you think the main challenges will be for running a company in 2020?
„Generational dynamics and cross culture issues will be the main challenge. No one will be exempt from dealing with either of these two issues. By 2024, one in five Americans over 50 will be women working in the workplace. This fact will be one of the single most dramatic shifts in the workplace today. Given the global status of how each company must work in, understanding and even celebrating multiple cultures will be critical for productivity and idea generation. Communication gaps will occur if HR and internal leadership is not trained."
You can stay up to date with Jocelyn by following her on Twitter @jocelyngreenky or visiting jocelyngreenky.com/