A few weeks ago I had a great day at dealer.com, where I led musical team building workshops for six teams. In total, I taught steel drumming to about 40 people, all of whom were open to learning and engaged in the creative process.
On the dealer.com web page there is a section about the company values, otherwise known as LIFE, which stands for: Living Sustainable, Innovative Leaders, Fostering Community, Employee Excellence.
These values were reflected in the behaviors I saw during my steel drumming workshops. The company culture clearly puts an emphasis on:
• Designating time to build highly aligned teams
• Striving for elite performance
• Setting the course for continuous improvement
Shortly after that gig, I read that 45 people lost their jobs at dealer.com. That’s about 4% of the workers, according to the parent company, Cox Automotive.
I’m not sure what other strategic moves Cox will initiate, but here are a few truths about culture:
• People are loyal to culture, not strategy
• Culture provides resilience in tough times
• When culture and strategy collide, culture will win
• Culture eats strategy for breakfast
Author Avinash Kaushik recently posted about this last phrase (attributed to Peter Drucker.) Kaushik says that “those five words explain failures of otherwise intelligent organizations.” It seems pertinent here because the strong sense of community and trust among the teams I worked with is going to face challenges in the coming months.
I’ve led team building workshops in a lot of different environments. Given what I experienced during my day at dealer.com, I can only hope that the new leadership will appreciate the high commitment culture that exists. May the power of that positive culture provide stability and support during this transitional phase.