‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ I haven’t heard a truer one liner about business. But before a corporate culture can outlast strategy, that culture must be great. And one of the biggest culture killers is people who puke down or across.
Verb. (pewkeh) 1.To puke is the act of venting or bitching to fellow team members about difficult situations, personal struggles, or overall frustrations.
2.To cross the line of rapport and catching up by spewing negativity chunks all over a coworker or peer.
3. A cycle of complaining and reciprocation within the same level of an organization that proves toxic to positive work culture.
Puking will inevitably happen – people need to vent, gripe and grind an axe. The key is getting your team to puke UP. Puking up in an organization is healthy, whereas puking across or down is nothing short of toxic. We’ve all been there with the team member where you ask something small such as, ‘How did your meeting go?’ or ‘How’d you do last month?’ Said team member immediately goes on a 10 minute rant explaining every possible thing that went wrong, how much it sucked and the fact they’re ready to quit. By the end of it, you need a break to just wash off some of the negativity. OR, you end up reciprocating with your own puke session – misery always loves company.
The problem with going across or down in an organization, is that those people receiving the negativity don’t deserve to have your problems dumped on them, nor are they equipped to help you deal with them. A great example is a group of rookie sales reps who went through the same training class. Naturally they have rapport and are excited to share experiences. But if one deals with a difficult client situation then goes puking to their peer, that person really doesn’t know how to handle the situation and it likely plants a seed where that person fears the situation or has a negative outlook on a certain part of the job. If that same rookie instead goes to a leader to puke, they’ll get the same benefit of venting and likely receive quality coaching to actually handle the situation effectively. AND, their training class buddy isn’t sucked into a cultural black hole.
In order to get buy in and stop people from puking down or across – leaders have to explain the importance for team culture, have open lines of communication and stop puking early. If an organization has habits of puking across or down, it will become a cancer and a culture killer. But if people embrace puking up, they will be better teammates, receive proper support and contribute to a great culture. So, if you must puke……make sure to always puke up!
Thoughts? Have you been part of a toxic culture where puking persisted? Or what are some other simple rules of thumb for creating a great team atmosphere?