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Ridiculous Ways to Improve Your Company Culture

| May 28, 2012 | 10 Comments

What do Fox’s The New Girl and professional wrestling have in common? This isn’t a trick question – they have absolutely nothing in common, except that they’ve both recently influenced ways that I have improved my company’s culture. This may sound a little ridiculous, but it makes more sense than it would appear on the surface.

Many office cultures are negatively impacted by employees making comments that either put down another employee or are just plain weird. After this occurs, a business environment is thrown, and the culture is off. It’s great to have a diverse workforce and bring in different viewpoints, but you certainly don’t want anyone going home offended at the end of the day. I’ve found a way to turn these negative comments into a bonding experience that also keeps everyone accountable for the things they say in the office.

For those of you who are unaware, Fox’s show, The New Girl, has a character named Schmidt. Schmidt’s dialogue basically consists of the most out-of-line “d-bag” comments like, “The most sexy holidays are the 4th of July, Independence Day, obviously, Women’s History Month, and Christmas.” His character says whatever enters his mind, no matter how raunchy, random, or weird.

Here’s where my master plan for keeping a company’s culture in check comes into play. When Schmidt utters an off-the-wall comment, the other characters immediately respond by saying, “Jar.” Just like an old-school swear jar, Schmidt then must walk over and put a dollar in the so-called “D-Bag Jar.” Every time he lets a jerky, unfiltered comment fly, Schmidt’s friends force him to pay up.

When I first saw this strategy, a light bulb went off. I thought it would be an awesome management tactic to include at work as a fun way to call someone out when he offers a bizarre or disparaging comment. When one of my employees says something that would be viewed at as a “d-bag” comment, the other employees can command him to the jar. We all go out after work for a happy hour when the jar is full – so we benefit twice from the d-baggery.

The “D-Bag Jar” has absolutely increased company morale. It makes a game out of calling people out when they say something ridiculous, and it brings the group together at the same time. The jar keeps potentially tense situations light.

Although it has nothing in common with girly T.V. shows, wrestling can also be used as a leadership tactic. I am not advocating for executives to sponsor cage matches during lunch. (Taking The Hunger Games to work will make people question your sanity, not their behavior.) Instead of fighting techniques, I look to professional wrestling as inspiration for developing motivation amongst employees. There are a lot of motivators out there for employees, ranging from money to titles. However, one of the biggest and easiest motivators is recognition. Implementing a way to regularly and publicly recognize an employee for doing something great can have a very positive effect on your company culture.

How does this relate to wrestling? In professional wrestling, the highest honor you can receive is the Heavyweight Championship Belt. After flipping channels one night, I saw a wrestler holding up a belt and thought, “Wow, I bet he feels pretty awesome.” The next day, I went to Wal-Mart and bought a cheap WWE Championship belt in the toy department. Now, my employees get the best whenever they do something really valuable for the company. As funny as it sounds, I can tell that when an employee gets the championship belt, he feels great about what he did to earn the recognition.

These tactics may sound ridiculous, but they work well. Each leadership strategy addresses major issues in a company’s culture. If your employees can work well without “d-bag” comments, they will be more productive and enjoy working together. When your employees can feel like champs when they do something great, then it will encourage them to strive for greatness. You don’t have to run out and get a “d-bag” jar or a WWE belt, but come up with some unique ways to set your culture apart that your employees will love. They’ll bond over the ridiculousness – and the fun.

John Hall is the CEO of Digital Talent Agents, a company that helps experts build their personal and company brands through producing high-quality content for reputable publications.

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Category: Startup Advice