Communism and Corporate Culture

Wenceslas Square | Prague

Recently, my wife and I traveled to Europe.  One of our favorite places that we visited was Prague in the Czech Republic.  The city was magnificent and we’re dying to return.  I did notice a few differences while there and after our return.  The most interesting was how quiet the people were while walking in the streets.  If you walk San Francisco, New York or San Antonio, you’ll overhear conversations between people at coffee shops, on their cell phones or with the other people walking along.  Interestingly, in Prague, even on the busy Wenceslas Square, you primarily heard foot steps and doors opening and closing.  Rarely did you overhear conversations.  I later found out from my friend, John, that it was rude to ask Czech’s about their lives prior to 1989, before the fall of Communism.  Interestingly, Communism also helped shift a city that was formerly the capital of the Holy Roman Empire with some of the most beautiful cathedrals we’d ever seen, to 61% of the population becoming Atheists.

Interestingly, I find that companies are similar.  We’ll notice in some companies that people are more matter-of-fact with their way of presenting thoughts and ideas, while others are more diplomatic.  In some, the people are chatty, while others, like Dave Ramsey’s company have a no tolerance policy against gossip (one warning, then you’re fired).

Whether you realize it or not, your office and your company has a culture.  It may be affected by a leader that is no longer there, but people remember “the good ol’ days” or how they felt when the one person was there that made it miserable for the rest of the team.  It’s important to keep this culture in mind especially during hiring.  Nearly all new recruits will second guess their decision for coming to work at a new company within the first thirty days.  Have you taken a step back to evaluate the culture that your company keeps?  Is it one that’s kept with pride?  Are there things that need to be changed to better fit the goals of the company?