If you have heard this expression before, you know the missing word is Superman. He is the mighty superhero with a cape that always saves the day!
But who is the superhero of the real estate office? Who is going to swoop in?
The Culture Keeper
Like this famous superhero, Executive Assistants and Operations Managers are often referred to as superheroes without capes, or the jack-or-jill of all trades. They are the backbone of an organization and the glue that holds things together.
Though Executive Assistants and Operations Managers have a plethora of responsibilities and tasks already on their plates, one of the most (if not the most important) is being the Culture Keeper. A Culture Keeper can be referred to as the “cheerleader” of an office, promoting the company values and creating a positive work environment.
Why is this role so important? Well, look no further than the Great Resignation of 2021.
As resignations peaked, companies scrambled to keep their current employees and appeal to those looking for new opportunities. As the Great Resignation shook the job market to its core, the companies that continued to thrive were the ones with solid company culture.
Now more than ever, jobseekers are looking for like-minded companies that embody their own values, standards, and beliefs. Identifying with companies that promote a healthy work environment and have a strong sense of community is paramount nowadays when joining a new team.
There are many different approaches to being a Culture Keeper and all of them are effective as long as they incorporate your company’s values. At Pro R.E.A. Staffing, we take great pride in our values. These values are the foundation of our Company’s culture and are what motivates our team every day.
Below are some things to keep in mind as you incorporate your values as a Culture Keeper.
Support and Acknowledgement
As an Executive Assistant or Operations Manager, you are the “eyes and ears” of the office so to speak. If you can sense that one of your team members needs encouragement, is having a bad day, or has a suggestion that he or she wants to share, reach out. Actively listen and offer assistance as needed.
You will gain more insight into how to manage the different personalities on your team when you take the time to check in and take a pulse on how things are going on their end. By keeping the lines of communication open and being a keen observer, you will learn how to provide your team members with the support they need to thrive in their roles. They in turn will feel appreciated and respected.
Did someone on your team complete a marathon or buy a new home or reach their 5-yr anniversary with the company? Celebrate these milestones and important moments in their lives. You don’t need to throw a party but acknowledging this accomplishment at the team meeting or a special shoutout on Slack can make an employee feel seen.
Showing employees they are valued, not just as a worker but also as an individual, will go a long way. Expressing kindness is contagious, and your team members will reciprocate that same kindness to other co-workers and clients.
Word of mouth is a powerful force and valued employees will share with others why they love working for your company. This, in turn, increases your company’s applicant flow because job seekers want to align themselves with recommended companies.
It is also imperative that the Culture Keeper does not get caught up in office politics or cliques as these can result in workplace conflicts. It is important to be neutral when conflicts arise between your team members – think of yourself as Switzerland.
As the Culture Keeper, you are an extension of the senior executive you support and the way in which he or she envisions the company to run. You lead by example, showing the team that picking sides is not an option as the environment you wish to convey is one of collaboration and teamwork. Creating a positive work environment is what Culture Keepers strive for. Culture killers and negative vibes are not invited to this company party!
Everyone on your team will have their own professional and personal goals and companies with a strong culture will foster these goals. For example, as the Culture Keeper for Pro R.E.A. Staffing, I created quarterly Professional Growth Days where the team members take time away from their daily work routine to learn and/or explore a new skill that will contribute to their growth.
If your company’s culture includes embracing challenges and never settling as ours does, that means as your employees evolve and grow, your company will reap the rewards of having a workforce with lifetime learners.
Now let’s discuss the term “work-life balance”. Is there ever really a balance? That term is an oxymoron in my opinion. What it really comes down to is empowering your employees to choose how they spend their time based on their goals and values. Whether that be remote work options, flexible scheduling, 4-day work weeks, holiday office closures, or whatever your company chooses to do, your role as a Culture Keeper is to ensure that your team members aren’t burnt out and are given ample opportunities to enjoy life outside of work versus working 24/7.
For example, at our company, we don’t have “set” work hours and provide unlimited paid-time-off days. Our team members set their own schedules and are held accountable to get the work done with no added pressure. If they have planned vacation or a personal obligation, they can attend to those without hesitation.
When they are at work, that is their focus because they know they have the flexibility to work when they are the most optimal. And as they say, “the proof is in the pudding” because our team members are continually motivated and do their jobs exceptionally well because they have the freedom to do so without restrictions.
Another name for the Culture Keeper should be the “Director of Fun”. Creating a fun environment where your team can laugh and take a break from the daily grind is always welcomed. Culture Keepers in an office setting can implement fun with break room dance parties, team lunches at local restaurants, happy hour, yoga, intramural sports, volunteering, book club, trivia nights, cooking classes, scavenger hunts, etc.
For virtual teams, implementing fun activities is also attainable. At Pro R.E.A. Staffing, I coordinate virtual games during our team meetings like Murder Mysteries, Jeopardy, Forensic Sketch Artist, and Escape Room Challenges. Also, we had a virtual sip and paint party and a comedy show. The sky’s the limit with how a Culture Keeper can incorporate fun.
The key is to do something that your team will enjoy to boost morale and bond outside of the work parameters. Like Dale Carnegie said, “People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.”