Buzz Word of the Month “Culture”

This is the buzz word with candidates and clients speaking about it constantly…

Last year in October I was fortunate to attend a real estate conference in Maui with three clients. We learnt a lot! And not only about real estate I am pleased to say. We were able to spend some time getting to know the local culture (i.e. shopping and a few cocktails!)

One thing that stuck out to me though, was a session that addressed  this issue of workplace ‘culture’.

This was eye opening in many ways. The presenters were two guys who ran an office in San Francisco and also LA. Their day to say issues and challenges seemed simpler than ours, but this could be due to their work force almost always being nervous about their job security. In Australia our candidates are really incredibly spoilt for choice, especially in property management.

Nearly every candidate I meet makes some comment about the culture of the business  or an office. They almost always relate this back to management and directors of an organisation. What is interesting to me, is that most of them speak about a workplace culture as if they are wholly separate to that notion.

Everyone in an organisation makes up the culture, not just its leaders. Culture includes those people who criticise the culture.

We send candidates out for interviews and often get comments that they don’t fit the culture. If you find yourself thinking that, can you get a good understanding of culture from one interview? Think about what your culture is. We often ask the question in return and people can really answer – What is your culture? There often seems to be a lack of clarity around this.

Out of a long session came a simple lesson: What is your culture? Develop a culture Mantra/Mission statement with your staff, then everyone commits to creating the culture


  • Don’t Be Evil (Google)
  • Don’t Gossip
  • Listen more than you speak
  • Eat the Frog (Do the hardest things first)
  • Teamwork

On my return, I asked each of my staff to come up with five points summarising our culture as they see it, and then another five relating to what they would like it to be – with no background into my session I had in MAUI!

It was an interesting exercise to say the least, and as discussed above, surprising to see how all the staff view the Directors and managers as the core of culture when everyone in the office is responsible. It was a great way for us to address all our issues relating to culture and I would thoroughly recommend it as a simple fun exercise for business owners and managers to  get this insight into your business. If everyone stuck to the example above, I am sure all would agree our culture would improve greatly…

By Melissa Karatjas – Director