Guiding the “vibe” or “personality” of your organizations culture is an important part of being a leader. And often it is what happens between the meetings and the group work sessions that shapes your organization’s culture as much or more than what happens at meetings and other group activities.
For example, the jokes you choose to laugh at will shape what is considered appropriate in your organization’s workplace. How much you choose to initiate “joking around” will also shape the personality of what kinds of interpersonal relationships people build. This goes for casual conversation as well—what will you engage in and how often?
The topics of casual conversations and how you respond to them will set a tone. Will you choose to engage in a casual conversation about politics or religion? How much or often will you engage in conversation about your personal life and family? How much is too much to know about someone’s personal life?
But it isn’t just you, observe your team members. Their reactions will tell you when they think something is too much. It may also fall to you to speak to a team member if they’ve taken things too far in a conversation or broached a taboo topic.
Some may believe that the garage of a mechanic shop and a boardroom or two different places that require different etiquette. However, in a successful business it is always important to strike the balance between goal-driven professionalism and a friendly work environment where smiles and laughs are welcome.
While having written guidelines in place is important, team members do not interact with guidelines every day. They do, however, interact with you and their peers each day. As a leader you should be a daily example of whatever guidelines have been set to print. What is accepted as usual from day to day will shape the personality of your organization more than its written counterpart.