Doing Dialogue

Top 5 Social Norms that Fuel Our Organization's Culture and Mission

December 7, 2017
Staff Retreat Group Photo
Our Team at the 2017 Staff Retreat

Behind the scenes of Essential Partners is a group of people on staff that not only work incredibly hard to deliver this meaningful work, but who truly enjoy spending time with each other in and out of the office. We make it a point to nurture our relationships with each other and because of that, we find that fun comes easily with this group. We have developed a list of "Social Norms" that we try to live out in our office culture. On November 30th, our team traveled to Salem for a retreat filled with stories, new understandings, resolutions, and laughter. We all know that we do our best to keep our social norms in mind on a daily basis, but sometimes it's nice to lift up the ways in which we are embodying these norms.

These are the top 5 Social Norms we embody in the office most regularly:

1.  Connect before content.
This is a long-standing norm for Essential Partners, and this one is truly at the top of our list because we know how important it is for us to check in with each other on a personal level before diving into the work. Every, single, day.

2.   Watch your dominoes.
When you knock over one domino the whole set falls down, right? Right. That's why it's important to consider the team when making decisions. 

3.   Take risks, we've got your back.
Sometimes we have to make decisions that affect the whole organization. Sometimes we're not 100% sure how to finish that really hard project. Whatever it is - the team is behind you and will support you in whatever way possible. 

4.   Be a Slacker.
This isn't one isn't what you think... Our office uses an instant messaging platform called "Slack" that use to communicate daily to stay connected when folks are on the road, make general announcements, and message each other with requests that definitely didn't need another email. It has changed the way we communicate in the office, and reminded us of how important it is that we're all on the same page. Whether it's using our online filing systems, or inputting a client's information correctly - we all stay on board with the same technologies to keep us organized and on track. 
5.    Play makes the team work.
This one has a slight play on words. :) We work really hard, but we also make sure we get some play time in, (hence our trip to Escape the Room Salem on our retreat!). It's not because we're slacking off - it's because we're working hard to make sure we connect and laugh with each other. It helps us strengthen our relationships so we can work cohesively as a team. 

These norms are imperative to the work we do. They help us stay connected, on track, and united in the office - but these are also norms we count on each time we lead a dialogue, or train a community in facilitation. Connecting with one another before jumping in to the tough stuff, or asking community members to take risks among their peers in conversation are some of the unique aspects of EP’s methods.

Each norm has a place in the work we do both as our organization's mission (among the communities we work with), and as a team. Some may say these norms helped us win the "Escape The Room" Salem, where there's only a 20% success rate... not that we're bragging!

What drives your company culture? Do you live out your mission internally as well as externally?