Charles Starrett

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Culture consultant & social tech teacher/facilitator at SoulCo & Northeastern University. He/Him. Dad, Harvard and NEC alum, visual thinker, dabbler in ukulele, electronic music, 한국어, and TTRPGs.

Cultural boundaries

Part of creating a healthy, intentional team culture is choosing where to set boundaries around attitudes and behaviors which are expected or not allowed.

Clear, explicit, and firm cultural boundaries allow everyone to choose whether this is a team where they can do their best work or not. It allows us to accept people as they are, without blame or shame, while also being able to decide whether they will contribute to the health of the team, or detract from it.

Clear, explicit, and firm cultural boundaries also help focus discussions about “employee fit” on concrete concerns: “In our team we work like this, but you appear to work like that, so we would all be unhappy working together.”

(This is in contrast to, “We just don’t feel that you’re a good fit,” which is often used as a lazy way to cover up unconscious bias against the employee.)

And the boundaries have to apply to everyone. Nothing kills a culture more than having one set of expectations for the employees, and another for the boss. CEO also stands for Chief Example Officer.

How clear are the boundaries in your team? Are the expectations clear and consistent? If not, what small, first step could you take for a stronger, healthier culture?

28 July 2022

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