The Culture Code bookreview


The Culture Code (Coyle)   All the rage this past decade has included a focus on the Culture of a group, organization, company. It is said that Culture is the fabric upon which all else is built. When good results are sustained the Culture is deemed to be a good one. When not, well then not so good. Coyle has a way of touching all the usual stuff we hear, the academic angles too and then solidifies it all in super simple summary statements. For instance, he summarizes his first chapter thus, “Group performance depends on behaviour that communicates one powerful overarching idea: We are safe and connected.”

This basic needs to constantly be reinforced or some employees will start to doubt it and begin to withdraw contribution. The secret sauce, he tells us, is to provide a steady stream of ‘belonging cues’, reminders of closeness and safety. Connection now and in the future are essential belonging cues.

He offers some guidance on providing feedback that reinforces belonging, rather than judgment and so on. Remind people of the following:

  1. You are part of this group
  2. This group is special and we have high standards
  3. We believe that you can reach those standards

Notice your own feelings when you imagine receiving these as you joined a new job.

Encourage the employee to design their approach when delegating to them. When reporting in invite them to explain what they have chosen to do and why they thought it would work well. Invite and then wait… Offer the belonging cues of active listening, eye contact, nodding yes, asking for more about this and that, say only what will encourage the employee to say more, let them show you their stuff, smile a lot. Say thank you. This behaviour from you, reminds them that they belong.

Explaining and celebrating the results of people’s work feeds team purpose. When my own company built a device that, the very first time it was used, saved a man’s life and I told the whole staff about it, well, wow. Tears, hugging, joy, satisfaction beyond measure. This is why we work here! The incident reinforces shared purpose, to aiming for a high goal, together, and to the interdependence among our team.

Daniel Coyle makes a case for belonging, a good one. I recommend his book The Culture Code to you.


Joseph Seiler MCC