Sept. 22, 2022

196 How to Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace with Gustavo Razzetti | Partnering Leadership Global Thought Leader

196 How to Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace with Gustavo Razzetti | Partnering Leadership Global Thought Leader

In this episode of Partnering Leadership, Mahan Tavakoli speaks with Gustavo Razzetti, CEO and Founder of Fearless Culture, creator of the Culture Design Canvas, and author of Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace. In the conversation, Gustavo Razzetti talked about the critical barriers to designing a great organizational culture and shared tools and approaches to intentionally design a great organizational culture.   Gustavo Razzetti also shared the challenge of maintaining organizational culture in a hybrid environment and the opportunity the greater flexibility of work provides for organizations to rethink how they approach culture and design a culture that helps individuals and teams thrive. Finally, Gustavo Razetti offers a framework for leaders to facilitate greater collaboration through shifting workplace dynamics.  


 

Some highlights:

- Gustavo Razzetti on the key influences on organizational culture 

- How to tackle the most significant organizational culture challenges

- The discipline and structure needed to make hybrid work environments succeed  

- The importance of rituals to culture and what kind of rituals to avoid 

- Gustavo Razzetti on how to build greater psychological safety in teams and its importance to organizational culture

- Gustavo Razzetti on the importance of collective feedback

- When and how to use asynchronous communication

- Gustavo Razzetti’s on the most critical elements of a thriving organizational culture

- The future of hybrid work and the opportunity for leaders to be intentional in designing their team and organizational culture 


Connect with Gustavo Razzetti

Fearless Culture Website 

Gustavo Razzetti Website

Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace on Amazon

Gustavo Razzetti on Twitter

Gustavo Razzetti on LinkedIn



Connect with Mahan Tavakoli:

https://mahantavakoli.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/mahan/

 

More information and resources available at the Partnering Leadership Podcast website: 

https://www.partneringleadership.com/



Transcript

Mahan: 

Welcome to Partnering Leadership. I'm really excited to speak to you welcoming Gustavo Rosetti. Gustavo is the CEO and founder of Fearless Culture: A Culture Design Consultancy. He is also the creator of the Culture Design Canvas: A framework used by thousands of teams and organizations across the globe to map, assess, and design their culture.

He is most recently author of Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace. I really enjoyed the conversation most especially on how we can intentionally design the right organizational culture. Now that many organizations are going back in person or operating in a hybrid environment. I'm sure you will enjoy the conversation and learn a lot from Gustavo as well. 

I also love hearing from you. Keep your comments coming, mahan@mahantavakoli.com. There's a microphone icon on partneringleadership.com. You can leave voice messages for me there. 

Don't forget to follow the podcast on your favorite platform. Tuesday conversations with magnificent change makers from the greater Washington DC DMV region and Thursday conversations with brilliant global thought leaders. 

Now, here is my conversation with Gustavo Rosetti.

Gustavo Rosetti. Welcome to Partnering Leadership. I'm thrilled to have you in this conversation with me.

Gustavo: 

I'm super excited Mahan. So, looking forward to a conversation and see where it's gonna take us.

Mahan: 

Same here, Gustavo, I really enjoyed Remote Not Distant: Design A Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive In A Hybrid Workplace, most especially because most of the people I interact with and my clients are starting to look like me pulling their hair out, trying to make this hybrid thing. 

So, I know you've done a lot of great work on organizational culture and hybrid, but before we get to that, Gustavo, we'd love to know whereabouts you grew up and how your upbringing has impacted who you've become.

Gustavo: 

I'm originally from Argentina and I've been living in the States for, I lost count because now I'm in Chicago. I lived in Los Angeles and before that, like five years in New York. But, if we wanna go back into the future, I would say that one of the key things that shaped my behavior and approach, it's how I was raised. I was raised in an environment of lots of freedom. So, we were seven siblings. I'm number five so, you're not one of the first that are take all attention neither the ones that come later. So, you're not in that fight struggle. So, I learned a lot about taking care of.

From cooking very early to doing lots of stuff, traveling, exploring, being, let alone in my house or going doing things that for today, kids would be like, oh, that's dangerous. So, I think that basically opened my mind to exploring, traveling and taking risk and screwing up, but then being able to find my way back home, so to speak.

Mahan: 

Before having kids Gustavo, I didn't believe much in birth orders impact, but I've seen real impact of birth order and the freedom that kids end up having. 

But you also have had experience in different cultures and I wonder if that influences your sensitivity and ability to sense and adjust to different organizational cultures?

Gustavo: 

Absolutely. I think that reading first and traveling and eating basically opened my sense since very young. Now for example, people say, Hey, you like to cook, what do you cook? And I cook food from European countries, different places because I like to explore. So, I think, that mentality helped me, but also when it comes to work, since very beginning, I was involved in regional first, Latin America, then global. Involving people from the us involving people from Europe.

So, I had to travel a lot for work and that helped me have what I call a visitor or traveler, more than a tourist mind, which is if you go to a place, I go there without instructions. I don't want to go to whatever list the New York times publish. I usually follow the locals. I see if the locals go and it in this place might be good. So, I like to explore the culture in that way, and I bring that same sense of exploration to my world with companies as well.

Mahan: 

I wonder about that Gustavo; I was thinking about it that my wife and I went to Rome for a great trip and this is before GPS was on every phone. And some of the best experiences we had were as a result of getting lost in the tight corners of Rome. Even that fact that in many instances we don't get lost. We don't get a chance to experience cultures when there is just purpose behind every visit and every place, we end up going.

Gustavo: 

Getting lost is one of my core skills. Actually, once I got lost in the Patagonia, in the middle of storm. I had to survive in the mountain without proper cloth without food, without water and I learn a lot. But I think to your point, getting lost is critical, but what happens if we connect these to the work I do. And you do as a consultant, when you work with companies, they want to understand what's the outcome gonna be. They want to focus on the end result, the perfect travel experience, rather than going through the pain of getting lost. 

And when you start working on culture, you don't know where you're gonna. So, where's the finish line? What's the real outcome? I say, we don't know. That's why we're doing the project. So, don't rush it. Enjoy the journey. If you want to drive your culture into a better future.

Mahan: 

That's a beautiful way of looking at it. And you've spent a lot of time focusing on organizational culture. Now Gustavo, culture has been, for the past couple of decades, almost a buzzword where, everyone puts up culture, eat strategy for breakfast, lunch, dinner, all kinds of statements about culture.

How do you view organizational culture and why have we made so little progress with respect to culture when all leaders seem to be talking about it consistently?

Gustavo: 

You made me laugh for many reasons, because you read my book that I don't like the phrase that culture its strategy for breakfast. Reason one, because we need both but most importantly if it comes to build on that metaphor, I would say that culture needs to be fed during breakfast, lunch, culture is something that we never stop working. 

That's basically the most important thing you use the word talk. Everyone talks about culture, but we need to fit it. We need to work on it. 

One thing that happens to me without finger pointing is many times we get hired, my team and I to work with different types of organization, cultures are number one priority, but then the teams don't have time to get together in a workshop or in a room or to discuss, or they get interrupted.

So, say, Hey guys. Hello. I'm here because she needs me to be here. I can be somewhere else, so my life's not gonna change. But if you really wanna take care of your culture, stop getting in and out of the room, stop checking your phone, stop canceling events, and let's put the efforts. [1] 

I think that's one of the key challenges people want to improve culture. But when they get in the process, they realize how hard it is. It's like getting fit. Everyone wants to go do a team because we all want to be in shape. We all want to be healthy. We want to look good. However, getting there that's the tough part requires discipline effort to show up and then people don't want to do it.

Mahan: 

It takes a lot of work, but it is worth that effort. And this transition that we have had with Gustavo, for many organizations, having been virtual for at least a portion, if not, most of the pandemic. Now, many organizations coming back to some version of what they call hybrid.

This becomes an opportunity to reset that culture. So, how do you define hybrid? Is that going to be in your view, the future of work because I still to this day, run into executives that talk about the fact that their productivity initially post going virtual went up, but they believe productivity of their teams has gone drastically down and they can't wait until they march everyone back to the office as many days of the week as they can. So, will that hybrid be the future of work in your view and what is hybrid work?

Gustavo: 

I think hybrid is definitely the future for the next month’s years, and it's here to stay. And what is hybrid? There are many models. Now I described, there are many ways to do hybrid, but you need to do it well within design and intentionality in order to get the best of both worlds. 

For me, the vision of hybrid is when you can get the benefits of flexibility from working remotely, not just from home because you can working from anywhere and working whenever people want. But also using the physicality, the office or that moment in which we get together to build culture with intentionality. [2] [3] 

So, three days a week in the office, that's not hybrid, that's a structure, because we were raised in a rigid nine to five that wasn't ever five, no, nine to seven, whatever. 

Now we're looking into dictate another model. Hybrid requires flexibility. Hybrid requires that different people like to work at different times at different moments, and that's okay. I'm bringing that flexibility together with lots of discipline. 

So, I think one of the biggest challenges is managers were used to lead by visibility. They wanted to see people, Hey, I'm in my corner office and I can watch my team there. Typing doing stuff, talking they're busy observation in terms of how many people send emails, who's the first person to arrive to the office. And the last to leave, they're productive. 

Hello. There's no reason that shows that being busy, it's productive. But there's a lot of research that shows that most companies productivity went up when people started working remotely. And the question that leaders need to do is why? It's because people started to be more mindful about how to use their time because they save time in the commutes. Because there are fewer distractions at the office, there are lots of distractions, some are good, but many are distractions.

So, I think that my biggest advice is rather than jump into what's your new model. To your point, reset your current culture. Think about what used to work before the pandemic. What worked during the pandemic and bring them together? This is not about forget everything that happened the past 30 years, but it's not also to get rid of all the lessons and learnings that we got from the pandemic.[4] 

Mahan: 

That is step number one of your book resetting that culture. And what I find to be really important is you talk about the five mindset shifts, the first one being making sure that it's a culture by design. The question I have in my mind, Gustavo, is where does that intentionality emanate from? Is it something that the CEO and the senior leadership team get together and think it through? Is it intentionality that is initiated at the team level? Where does that intentionality for the culture start?

Gustavo: 

I think it's not necessarily top down, but it's definitely inside out. So, every member that has good things to share should basically contribute. In the new environment, it's even more important than ever to get feedback and input from employees.

So, the backlash that Google and Apple got was when basically their CEOs were making decisions about the future work and people say, Hey, we don't want to do this. So basically, you are clueless. But it wasn't just about flexibility because people are lazy like some people like to portray, it was about, Hey, minorities felt more protect.

Felt safer working remotely. There were fewer aggressions people that have complex family situations. Smaller kids or they're taking care of their senior family members. They need different approaches to work. And now that they realize, Hey, that's possible. They don't want to let go of that. That is not against the company benefit. If we can use it and funnel it the right way.

Mahan: 

It's beautifully put Gustavo in that, many view the employees as being lazy in not wanting to go back to the old routines. It's not that there are advantages that people have gained both from a life perspective and cooperation perspective so, it requires a different view, but you mentioned this flexibility and the discipline that needs to go along with it. How can leaders think about the flexibility and then marry that with discipline? 

Gustavo: 

Thank you for noticing that. And that's what I call the biggest paradox of remote work. Sometimes when we use the word, flexibility or freedom, leaders immediately equate that to, Hey, this is gonna be chaotic. People are gonna do what they want. No. With flexibility and freedom comes ownership.

I talk about when I was a kid, I was raised in a freedom environment, no one had to be there on top of me, if I was doing my homework because I became accountable. And that's where we need to coach people. Discipline basically balances that. [5] [6] 

So, if people can start working maybe at 7:00 AM, because that's their preference and some other team members wants to work starting at nine, then we need to set certain rules. For example, from 10: 30 to 1:00 PM, we are all gonna block time so, everyone's available. 

If I need to talk to my team, if we need to regroup, people are available. So, it's not chaotic. It's funny ending that connection. If people are gonna work at their own time, there's gonna be a lot of asynchronous work. Okay, we need to become very disciplined into how we document things so people can find information. They can get the background; they can get the input they need. They can make decisions, so that's the balance that we're looking for.

Mahan: 

That is powerful Gustavo, and in my interactions, that is exactly pinpointing the reason why some of the attempts at hybrid have not worked where the systematic thinking in incorporating a certain level of discipline, whether with respect to hours worked or with respect to systems of documenting in an asynchronous way have not been thought through. 

So, flexibility is seen as chaos, whoever do whatever they want. That's why the leaders are, let's get everyone back to the office. At least that was working better, but they're not doing hybrid well.

Gustavo: 

And there's another side to this story that people don't want to talk about, which is the leader side of the story. I'm not blaming them and of course, each company is unique. I talk a lot about the biases that force leaders to hack people in the office, but leaders don't trust their, they had to trust people during the pandemic to work from home, to work remotely because they didn't have an option. 

Now that people have proven that they kept businesses alive. People say, Hey, you know what? I don't trust you. I want to see you. There's also another element to that, which is, if you are the CEO or senior executive in a team, what happens? You have a huge, comfortable office. You have an admin that brings you coffee, food, lots of stuff. If you are in a house, you need to go and take care of your own printer. The CEO needs to go and print and the paper gets jammed. Have you ever seen a CEO printing in a corporate world? No. So they want also a little bit of that comfort and no one wants to address it.

Yeah. Being at the office, it's really comfortable if you're one of the higher ups. But for many people, they don't see much benefits. Gas is getting expensive. They waste 1, 2, 3 hours to commute. They have to pay for food, water than cook at home. And also’ s, Hey, I'm doing the same work that I used to do for two years at home so, what's the point?

 

I was talking to a company that they say, Hey, my CEO's worried because we offer flexibility, but people are not showing up. No one comes to the office. So, I say, let's talk about metrics. They are financial services firm. So, we started going one by one and all the metrics, sales, productivity, profit retention. They were green. So, the company's doing great. You're growing so why don't you change the conversation from, I want to see my people to, why would people want to come to the office? So, are you gonna do a nice lunch to build teamwork? Are you gonna do like a team offsite? We're gonna focus into retrospective. What's working? What's not? Are you gonna do something to introduce the new team members that no one knows and give awards? So, use that time in person mindfully. Not just because the CEO wants to see people.

Mahan: 

And it requires genuinely trying to see things from the other person's point of view, not from a cynical perspective, but they don't wanna come to the office because they don't wanna work or they don't wanna be held accountable, seeing it from their point of view. Because Step two, you mention reimagining that shared future requires co-designing and that co-designing really requires design thinking of the experience that all the employees have.

It's not just one person's point of view and perspective. It requires shared conversations.

Gustavo: 

Absolutely. Once you reset your culture, step two is what future do we want to build together? Not just, what do we want? It's not about the tasks that I do within my team. It's more about what are we trying to achieve here?

Where do we show up to work? Either in a physical environment or in front of a camera or in front of my computer or phone. And I think that's where companies are lacking. 

So, the pandemic basically shakes things. It accelerated a revolution where people are reflecting about what does it mean to work? Not just my job, but my relationship to work. And people say, Hey, I spent one third or more of my day there. I want to get something. It needs to be meaningful. There's an interesting take talking about the future. That's not just young people that don't want to go back to the office, the people in the fifties, don't want to go back to the office either.[7] 

Now the new wave of the great resignation it's in the management. Now there are managers because we talk about employees leaving. No. Now managers are living by the thousands. 

So, the employees are leaving and managers, say, Hey, they are wrong. They're wrong. And until say, no, maybe I'm wrong. I need to leave too. So, what kind of workplace do we want to build? What impact do we want to create as a test and then that's where people are gonna be part of your company or they're gonna go and join someone else.

Mahan: 

That outcome-oriented conversations and real co-designing with everyone takes effort and time, but that's why this is an opportunity to reset that culture. One of the things that you also touch on in your book, Gustavo, that has been a challenge for organizations is that they had a certain set of rituals, pre pandemic.

Some of those rituals didn't carry through. They ended up starting new rituals when people were working virtually. Now this hybrid environment gives them the opportunity for rituals. In your view, what's the importance of rituals and in thinking about a hybrid work environment, how would the approach to rituals for the organization be different?

Gustavo: 

That's one of the key elements of culture. We want to be accepted by others. We want to feel that we belong. If we don't have that feeling, we feel insecure, we feel threatened, and then we want to either go somewhere else or we shut down as human beings or become very defensive. 

So, the point about belonging, it's where rituals come to play a very important thing[8] [9] . Many companies started doing lots of ice breakers and fun stuff by zoom. And it was all right, but at some point, he became very repetitive. It became very short term minded and people basically tired and it wasn't fun at all, any longer. 

So, I think that we need to let go of certain practice ability. They don't have any sense. Maybe be more mindful having rituals. Does it mean that you need to have 20 rituals? Maybe one or two are okay. Maybe once a week. It's okay to get and bring the team together. And that's where companies get stuck into. Hey, you say let's do retails and they basically, creating a new burden in terms of their teams. 

The other elements, rituals need to be optional when you're creating something and it feels forced into you, then you shut down. You reject it. You become defensive. Let the team design their own team rituals. So, when you have a regional created, the CEO's gonna feel like foreign is like a parent designing the party for your teenagers, that's boring. 

So, I think that rituals need to be intentional. We need to be selective in terms of not too many, but also be designed or at least co-designed with your team members.

Mahan: 

Those rituals play an important role in setting the culture. Intentionality is something you mentioned with respect to culture and all aspects of it, including rituals that I think is really important and missing in some of the conversations and some of the actions in organizations.

Gustavo: 

First of all, people confuse icebreakers or games with rituals. Rituals are more well defined, but most importantly, they need to be designed with an end in mind. So basically, what's the problem that we're having as a culture? Do we feel distant? Do we feel that we're lacking something in common?We have too many new team members and we don't get to know each other well, do we feel upset, defensive, and then create a ritual to act on that. [10] [11] 

So, it's not copy paste, not only the rituals that used to have before working remotely but don't copy paste rituals from other companies. That's critical. Regionals can also be an opportunity to provide physicality in which we don't have that opportunity to present. 

So, go to the tech software company manufacturer go to meeting and many other platforms. What they do is because they're saving lots of money. They don't need to have as much office space. Now they've distributed that part of that budget into team building, ritual, culture building activities. And now people get together at the local level. So, we live in certain area in New York or LA and people get together to do fundraising, to do community events, for example, like participating in a community kitchen and a food bank and helping people that are struggling. And that brings the culture together. Those are ritual that their employees design and it connects the people that probably they don't work together, but they happen to live in that similar and physical region. 

Similar to that, Dropbox, used to give a box of cupcakes to their new employees, because one of Dropbox values is a smiling cupcake. And when people started working rounded, that was done. So, what happened? So, they came up with an interesting idea, which is they send people to their homes, a box all, instead of giving them the cupcakes, they give them the ingredients and a recipe so people can cook. 

There are many things about that. First, when you receive a gift and you're working remotely, that's the physicality that brings your company to your own hands. Super powerful, but also the idea that you have to cook. We don't have many people doing the pandemic, starting to experiment, baking and stuff, but you can share the whole process. 

Baking the cupcakes, eating. Them on your own or with your neighbors or family members. And you are still being in that connection with your team members. And if you're ugly baker, your cupcakes look bad, people are gonna have fun and you're gonna start conversation among team members.

So, I think that's the important thing about what are we trying to build and how we can use to create that connection.[12] 

Mahan: 

What great examples of how even small rituals can play a significant role in that connection and sense of belonging. People can feel to their organization. And these are simple to implement and test and then see how it works with the team members. 

Another thing you mentioned in, ring 90 belonging, Gustavo is culture of collective feedback. Now collective feedback was even hard in person. It was very hard remote. It's going to continue being hard in hybrid. 

How would an organization go about encouraging and having a culture of collective feedback rather than just even sometimes getting managers to give feedback is hard let alone collective feedback.

Gustavo: 

When we talk about collective feedback, traditionally, companies focus on the one on one into managers. Giving their direct response feedback. And while that's important, it puts too much attention on the individual while we need to fix the team.

So, sports team, especially the most effective, they give feedback to the team. How can we play better? They don't say. Hey, Gustavo, Mafa, and Jane, you are not doing a good job. So, it moved from the blaming. Who's the weakest link into the team versus how can we all improve? Because in the end many times, performance issues are not based on one person does, that the consequence of a system that's not working. So collective feedback helps us uncover. [13] 

What can be improved at the system level at a collective level and active. We talk about sports and the same way that walking every day and walking long distance or running, it's hard. You don't start by running marathon. You start by running maybe one mile and see how it. 

So, I think that building collective feedback is building a different muscle. That's gonna be hard, but through time, it's easier to build than people.

Mahan: 

And it is important to your step number four, which is rethinking collaboration. If we want people to collaborate more effectively, we have to think about feedback systems as working. In a team as opposed to focused on individuals. Now, with the collaboration, you also talk about default to async. 

One of the challenges that I have seen is now professionals are spending almost 22 hours a week in meetings because scheduling meetings is pretty easy. Click, click, you got zoom meeting and call people into it. So, how have you seen application of a sync done well in rethinking collaboration?

Gustavo: 

I think the key point is basically understand what do we mean by async and when to use a sync. So, both synchronous communication that we're doing now, talking at the same time, it's valuable for urgent matters. There's an emergency, we can fix it faster over the phone than Hey, I'm gonna send you an email, check it when you have it and the house on fire. 

It's also great for building relationships. But then async is really good for most collaboration projects, even for making decisions, because you take the time to reflect, you get everyone's simples. The point is like everything in the workplace, we hear someone say, Hey, let's default to a sync. And that became mantra. Many clients were telling me how we're a sync first and say, oh great. What does that mean? Did you train people? What practice did you identify? What was working before? What are the things you need to let go of which meetings you want to eliminate?

Do you have a criterion for people to see? Hey, can I opt out for meetings? No. You are saying that you're practicing a sync. It's like having a growth mindset or psychological safety, all the things that people throw there because they look good. Just words, 

Mahan: 

You are saying, ay is not just the implementation of tools or saying that you are doing ay I've seen organizations set up few tools and say, yes, we also do async it's as if it's something on the side. 

You also Gustavo mentioned the releasing of agility, which is step five and autonomy as the new engagement. I find that to be powerful yet in doing that, there have to be parameters for the team and therefore for the organization to succeed. So how can leaders think through releasing agility, giving teams and individuals, the autonomy that's needed, but keeping them aligned?

Gustavo: 

The point is what's our purpose? What are we trying to do? Align on goals. But then let people do whatever they need to get those goals. 

I always say that leaders try to be a coach and they also try to be a player. You cannot be both. Either you are on the field, whatever sports you choose playing the match, or you are on the sideline, you cannot be in both places. 

So, once you agreed on this strategy, how we're gonna tackle this game, let people play. People know how to achieve that goal better than anyone else. That's why we hire people. [14] [15] 

I know companies have thousands of employees. So, you don't hire and pay them as much money just to tell them how to do their homework. You hire them because they can bring new things to the table. 

Actually, one of the things I always emphasize and why companies are struggling because they don't have expertise inside the house. HR, most of them have been born and raised like most of us in office centric, workplaces. So, they don't know how to async. They don't know how to do hybrid. So, bring people from other teams that have the expertise of working fully remotely for years, even before the pandemic or people that have doing some kind of hybrid and let them infuse some new practices and new tools. Learn from them. And that's a part of autonomy, letting people shake how we work, 

Mahan: 

As we do that Gustavo, you had also a while back created the Culture Design Canvas, which I had seen, worked with referenced. I think that's also outstandingly well done. As leaders of a team read your book, one of the frustrations that sometimes podcast listeners share with me is they say, okay, I'm not the CEO of the organization, so what can I do?

There's one person who is the CEO and the CEOs a lot of times say, I don't have full control. The board does or so on and so forth. But for people leading a team, they read your book, they want to reset that culture, understand the intentionality with which they need to approach it as they go through these steps.

How would you recommend for them to start? 

Gustavo: 

I'm gonna zoom back a second and I'm build on the first part of your question, which is we don't have control. Not even CEOs, not even boards, no one has control of anything. 

In business and in life, I would say 70, 80 and being generous, of things are out of our control. The issue is we get stuck in the things that we cannot control because it's easy. Hey, my leader doesn't do this. My leader doesn't approach this. I don't have budget. And I always advise team, you can control how each team member takes care of themselves, how they treat each other. 

For example, psychological safety, you don't need to wait for the leader to build a safe workplace.If among your team member, you start treating each other with respect. You give them the more opportunity to share, you listen, you pay attention. You accept people who think differently than you do. 

That's key, whatever thing you're gonna do in culture, you need to focus on what are the things that you can affect going back to the first step.[16] 

I think that an organization or team level doing a culture. Thinking what work. What used to work? What do we want to be in the future? That kind of big picture dreaming the type of culture that we want. It's critical. Then you can start going back to the culture compass. You can start in bigger things about what's our purpose.

Even if your company doesn't have a company purpose, you can design what's the purpose for your own group for your own. You can focus on what's hurting us? Are we suffering from lack of priorities? Are we suffering because we don't give feedback to each other as often as we should those are the areas?

Choose your quick wins. Choose your battles and get started because in the end, it's about building momentum. You're building a muscle. Don't try to resolve the muscle overnight because you're gonna get hurt. Do it little by little, but be consistent.

Mahan: 

I love that perspective. Gustavo. As you have, I've also interacted with leaders at all levels of organizations and people typically find reasons why it's their board, it’s their senior leadership team. It's the CEO, it's this person or that there are always things that are outside of our control, as you said, in many instances at all levels, vast majority of things are outside of our control, that doesn't become an excuse for not impacting the culture of the organization. 

And I believe what you have done very well with your book. Remote Not Distant, is lay out a step by step framework to start the conversation. This is starting the conversation with intentionality that then helps the team create the kind of culture they want to have in this hybrid future of work. 

Now, Gustavo, in addition to your own book and the culture canvas, are there any other leadership resources that you recommend specifically as leaders of teams and organizations are reflecting on the future of work and creating that future with intentionality?

Gustavo: 

Yeah. For me, I think that sometimes we're looking for answers in the wrong place. And to your point, my book doesn't pretend to be the answer. It was designed to spark conversations. So, in the end, the energy, the raw material, that's the most valuable for you to build a successful culture is within your company. 

So, don't go and look for solutions and look for whole this company this did. Copy-paste. I'm gonna do it because you're gonna fail. You don't know the details. You're just reading the what was version of the real thing. You are seeing the end destination, not the journey. It's like when you got lost in Rome you can recommend that restaurant that you went with your wife and to say, oh great, I'm gonna go there.

But if you didn't go through the process of getting lost, then the experience wouldn't have been the same. So once again, I think that you need to start talking more to your people. You need to start listening more to people. That's the most valuable source of learning for you to build the right culture.[17] [18] 

Mahan: 

That's so beautifully put Gustavo, both with respect to the experience my wife and I had, you're absolutely right, in that the process of getting lost, added to the beauty of finding the spots where we ate at. And secondarily with respect to the approach to culture. Questions are the answer.

This is asking the team, the questions and having the conversations to develop the muscle. Sometimes, people write in and they want to hear the example of the company that made it work or the leader that made it work especially on social media, that gets a lot of traction.

We want the one person and the one answer that they implemented that made them rich, made them healthy, made them whatever. But that is not the reality of it. It's approaching culture with the humility that the answer resides in the experience of the team trying to come up with that intentional future and those answers.

And I think you do a brilliant job of laying the groundwork for leaders to do that.

Gustavo: 

Thank you. And, in my book, there are hundreds of examples from large companies, well known to smaller. Not only at the executive level, but also at the regular team level. People in smaller groups are doing, but in the end, I always caution people. Don't learn from the what was behind it, why they were trying to achieve and the thinking process, not the solution.

And that's the hardest part. Now, when we talk about building the muscle, it's building that thinking muscle that got that company to come up with that solution. The solution is not the muscle. That's the band aid. And we have too many band aids in the workplace already.

Mahan: 

We do. So Gustavo, to find out about your book, you mentioned the newsletter. How best can the audience find out more information about you, your book and your newsletter.

Gustavo: 

I would say Google me. There are not so many Gustavo Rosetti so that's the beauty of my name. And I'm active on Twitter, not too much, but I'm active my handle is a GusRosetti. So, the first three letters of my first name and then my last name altogether, I'm very active daily and send more than once on LinkedIn.

I share lots of stuff their comments, articles that I write, et cetera. If you go to my website, we have a blog in which you can subscribe. It's fearlessculture.design, and you can subscribe for free. I write a weekly newsletter. I post, there are a lot of tools that you can download. I have written over 600 articles.

So, you have a lot of free content that you can get there and join the conversation cause I want to hear from you not just read it, but also came back to me.

Mahan: 

I have really enjoyed your book and seeing some of your posts on LinkedIn, Gustavo. As you said, it's a conversation and it's a conversation that we all need to have. This is new for all of us in what we are experiencing, and it's also an opportunity I appreciate the frameworks that you have shared along with examples for people to think differently, but examples just serve as that as examples, not something to be duplicated. 

So, I really appreciate your great work on helping teams and organizations transition to hybrid or remote, but not become distant from each other.

Thank you so much Gustavo Rosetti.

Gustavo: 

Thank you. It was a pleasure being here and I really enjoy the conversation. I think that I want to get some tips from you when it comes to restaurants. 

Mahan: 

Gustavo, even if you ask me, I won't tell you because I learned something from a new friend of mine.

And part of the joy of that food came about as a result of the hunger and the search after being lost. And if I told you that same restaurant, you would not experience it the same way as I did.

Gustavo: 

Gotcha. Thank you, Mahan. Good point. 


Image: Sometimes, organizations tell us that culture is their number one priority. Then their teams don't have time to get together in a workshop or a room to discuss culture; when they do, they are constantly interrupted. If you really want to take care of your culture, you must put in the effort! 
 
 
(please highlight that last sentence, "If you really want  to..."


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The vision for hybrid should be getting the benefits of flexibility from working remotely while also using the office or the moment we get together to build intentional culture.


video content: Resetting the culture


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Sometimes when we use the word flexibility or freedom, leaders immediately equate that to, hey, this is going to be chaotic. People are going to do what they want. No. With flexibility and freedom comes ownership which requires coaching and discipline.


Image: The pandemic shook things up with work. It accelerated a revolution where people reflected on what it meant to work—reflecting not just on their job but their relationship with work. And people thought, hey, I spend one-third or more of my day there. I want to get something. It needs to be meaningful.


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A key element of culture is that we want to be accepted by others. We want to feel that we belong. If we don't have that, we feel insecure and threatened, and then we want to either go somewhere else or shut down. That's why rituals play a significant role in creating a great culture by impacting our sense of belonging.


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People confuse icebreakers or games with rituals. However, rituals are more well-defined and can address problems you are having as a culture. That's why you must design rituals with a cultural goal in mind.


video content: Intentional Rituals that Create Genuine Connections


Image: Performance issues often are not based on just what one person does. Instead, they are the consequence of a system that's not working. That's why it's essential to encourage collective rather than just individual feedback.


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Sometimes leaders try to be a coach, and they also try to be a player. You cannot be both. Either you are on the field or the sideline, you cannot be in both places. So, once you agree on a strategy, let people play. Your people know how to achieve that goal better than anyone else. Your role should be just to coach them.


Image: In business and life, so much is out of our control. Don't get stuck focusing on things you can't control. You have control over what you do. For example, you don't need to wait for the leader to build a psychologically safe workplace. You can start with yourself. Treat people with respect, listen and accept people that think differently than you do. That way, you will contribute to building a psychologically safe workplace.
 
Please highlight the second sentence: Don't get stuck focusing on things you can't control.


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The most critical step in helping you build the right organizational culture is to start talking more to your people and start listening more to your people.