The sniff test – what do you really notice about your organization’s culture?

Many years ago, when I was leading a large regional service center, my boss came to town about once every month or so for a check-in.

His name is Robin Cramp – still one of the favorite people I’ve ever met on this long career journey of mine.

On one of his visits, I greeted him at the front door, and when he walked into the lobby, he took a deep breath and said, “I love the way it smells here.”

What I didn’t immediately realize was that he was referring to his immediate, visceral response to the energy in the building. What he was saying was that as soon as he walked into the building, he noticed positive energy. He said it was something he could sense – smell – as soon as he walked in.

I laughed the comment off a bit, but over time I thought about it more and more. Is a positive culture that obvious? Can you see it, hear it, smell it in the air?

I think perhaps it is. I think even the most scientific among us would have to agree that different organizations exude very different energies. It’s not a woo-woo thing at all. When people like working somewhere, when they are respected, when their workload is appropriate, when they have what they need to do their work, when they feel the lines of communication are open, and when there is joy and a sense of accomplishment, then….. well, the place smells pretty good!

About the Author

Sarah Thomson

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