Corporate Spies

Completely for fun here’s a rumor I had to deal with at the restaurant I told y’all I was waiting tables for: “She’s a spy from corporate”… Corporate sent me, little ol Kristina, into a restaurant in little ol Decatur, AL to spy on them? Whoooooaaaaa. As the new kid I found it humourous. As an employee trying to do a job I found it frustrating. As an HR professional I found it heartbreaking. I immediately wondered what kind of situation I could’ve signed up for. Are things bad enough in your organization that people assume the new kid on the block is a spy? to clean things up? To shut things down? To rat people out? To change things, for the better or even the worse? What kind of culture have you shaped that has people fearing a corporate mole when someone poses a solution to a problem? I can’t face day-to-day situations and turn my “HR” off, no matter where I am. It may be a curse… I don’t know, lol.


It has me thinking about culture and where us HR professionals get it wrong… We tend to be in situations where we wait until everything about our culture goes wrong before we find a solution. We are very much reactive in defining culture and we should take a look at our goals there again and see how effective that is. Now I know we don’t all have an opportunity to build culture from the ground up, but I see a lot of situations where an HR pro comes in and identifies the need to change the culture, but waits for something to blow up to get buy in on the idea. Don’t do that! You take responsibility and start making things happen… pitch it better to the higher-ups, make sure the higher-ups believe it and support it. Be an example. If you know me you know that I’m an advocate for the 5 love languages and the theme in the book is really based around making a difference starting with yourself… If you continue to throw tantrums no one takes you seriously, if you start to implement what you know it is going to take and behave the appropriate way people will see the results. That is taking on a huge role, but the ROI is worth it. I can tell you this though, if you wait until half your staff believes that there is a spy from corporate to clean up the culture… you’re in big trouble.

Growing Apart: a culture break-up

I focus a lot of my recruiting efforts into selecting candidates that will be a culture fit for where they are applying to work. Recently I’ve been tossing around some questions with Ben over at and some of my co-workers at my day job. I still have a lot to learn about identifying the right candidate based on culture criteria and I’m pouring a lot of effort into making sure I understand what the company intends their culture to be and if their existing employees feel the same way. Talking to my co-workers got me wondering what my previous co-workers would’ve said the culture was in my last position and then I remembered a conversation I recently had with one of them.

A few weeks ago I received a text from one of my former co-workers. She was talking about being at a mandatory company wide meeting and somehow the conversation turned towards divorce. We were talking about books on my reading list that I would recommend and the 5 love languages was one of them… totally a life changing book. When I told her about the book and the purpose and how easy it is to apply it to your every day life she was sold and then she shared with me that her and her husband had almost divorced previously… It’s no secret that I was on the brink of that myself… mostly because my desire to succeed in my position and the importance I placed on the company jeopardized my priorities. Her response to that was “Oh yeah I know I think most of us have”. I stopped and stared at my phone as the crushing truth smacked me in the face. That right there defined their culture (and though I don’t work there anymore, it breaks my heart). That very conversation that her and I just had summed up what was and was not important to the company we slaved away for and I don’t use that lightly. When she said most of us, she meant most of the top producers in the company. Why? Well, because our options were to succeed or to fail. Either choice was on a zero budget and we were expected to make miracles happen. I don’t know what you know about making miracles happen, but it takes a lot of time and effort… might as well move into your office! My young 20-year-old self saw it as an intriguing challenge.. I can do this..! My young inexperienced, unmarried self fit their culture. I had nothing else to devote my time to, but work. I had no experience so I had to be grateful for the opportunity. I never imagined that my expectations of work could and should change as my life changed. I was not a believer in the work/life balance. I didn’t understand putting yourself/family before your job (remember that old school work ethic that I learned growing up?).

One of the questions that made it to Ben was something along the lines of where do the “bad attitudes” go to work? Because, there is a place for everyone… He had a well worded spin on it and I’m sure he will share it on his blog soon if he hasn’t already done so. And the dots started connecting for me.. today I would be a terrible culture fit for my previous employer, not because I have a “bad attitude”, but because I have a different attitude and most definitely not because I can’t or won’t produce, but let’s face it, we all do our job better when we are happier. What makes you happy? Aligning with the right culture for you. Sometimes that may take a few companies before you figure out what that is (note: this is why I don’t immediately dispose of the job hopper resume, sometimes I have a little glimmer of hope in my heart that they are on a quest to find their culture fit… I mean, if it is important to us recruiters isn’t it possible that it actually is important to some of those job seekers?). Sometimes it means you and the culture of the company you work for grow apart. It doesn’t mean that you are a horrible demon if you don’t fit the culture or vice versa; it just means you’re no longer a fit. It is what it is.

it is what it is it was what it was