The Warmth of an Ice Bucket Culture

06 Oct 2014, Posted by Tracey Erbert in Uncategorized

I was never thrilled at the idea of having ice water dumped on my head—especially when I thought about how much the people dumping it on me were going to enjoy their opportunity.

But aside from the fact that I was happy to support the ALS awareness campaign, I also felt like accepting the ice bucket challenge was a great way to promote positive office culture by creating some fun camaraderie.

It’s my goal to create a culture of teamwork, camaraderie and family; a culture that’s defined by full transparency, honesty, accountability and fairness. And based on my history in this industry—or as a leader period—I think this approach creates the best output from any team.

What do people want in an office culture?

They want flexibility and room to breathe. They want balance in their work and home life and they want to see that senior leadership is held to the same standard. I think one of the biggest “misses” in office culture is when senior employees have greater freedoms and consideration than the people who work for them, because that’s a great way to make most of your employees feel like a bunch of undervalued peons. in2itive works hard to prevent that kind of feeling from developing. I expect everyone to work hard but also make it clear that personal life is a priority. People here know that if they need to leave early or take a personal day or work offsite that they have that freedom. My daughter played softball all throughout college and I only missed two of her games, and I’m going to make sure each of my employee’s has the same kind of opportunity to make the most of their personal and family lives.

The worst thing I can do is lead by fear.

I didn’t parent that way and I won’t manage that way, because you’ll always accomplish the most when you yourself cooperate, communicate and establish relationships. That’s why I foster open communication at in2itive—our employees are always encouraged to voice their concerns and struggles, and myself and other leaders make it a point to hear all sides of the conversation. Plus, we host annual team building events and additional, less formal gatherings throughout the year; because even if some of my employees don’t like each other, they can all understand and work with each other and even have a little fun together.

This is a family, and that’s how it has to be treated.

I remember a situation at a surgery center where I worked years ago—I received a call at seven o’clock at night that one of our PACU nurses had arrived home to find her husband dead of a massive heart attack. As fast as I could, I changed my clothes, jumped in my car and headed to her house. When I got there, several employees had already arrived and, by the end of the night, almost every employee was there, even the medical director. These are the people we spend the majority of our lives with. Why would we not treat them like family?

That scene from the PACU nurse’s house? That sense of family and commitment is what I want to create in my company. The sheer delight my employee’s felt when they dumped that ice water on my head? That simple joy and fun is what I consider important. And together, these things create the kind of office culture that generates success and longevity.

Tracey Erbert, terbert@in2itive.org or 913.344.7002

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