I was visiting an organization the other day and meeting with the executive director. It was the first time I had ever been to their office, so wasn’t really sure what to expect. We were going to discuss an ongoing content marketing strategy in order to help connect this nonprofit with their volunteers in some neato, cool ways. I loved their website, their executive director was passionate and very hospitable, so I was excited to visit.
Until… I walked in the door. I walked into a waiting room type area with multiple chairs. There was an unmanned receptionist desk, but their were signs of life on the desk, including a really moldy coffee cup and some crumbled up, presumably used kleenex. I waited a few moments and could see some cubicle dwellers in the wings. They were busy, doing their thing and none had even looked up to see me standing there. So 3 minutes has gone by and I finally did the throat clear thing, you know, to get someone’s attention and acknowledge that their was a new human being in the office. One gentleman in a bright sweater walked by, looked at me and turned his back on me to help a cubicle dweller. He was literally 5 feet away from. He saw me standing, saw me make eye contact and chose to do nothing. No head nod, no 1 minute signal, no nothing. Cold.
Finally, I decided to walk around the corner and flag someone down to get our meeting started. Hospitality Fail. I’ve been thinking about this awkward encounter a lot. This great online presence, this shiny website that is very welcoming, this organization that serves people in such a profound way and then within their organization, their people, their team have no sense of carrying that mission out internally. Maybe this was an isolated issue, maybe it was just a crazy busy day, but maybe, just maybe, the interior culture isn’t matching the outbound messaging.
How does your business address culture? Do you hold days of retreat and reflect upon the organizations’ mission? Do you hire only certain folks that seem to fit within? Do you send them daily quotes of inspiration and instill in them the mission of the organization? Do you let Mike with the Yellow sweater ignore guests? Do you let Sally behind the cubicle not acknowledge people walking in the door? Now granted, I’m just a consultant. But what if I was a new potential community partner or donor meeting to discuss a large gift? What if I was a volunteer who had just donated weeks of their time organizing the last fundraising event?
Our outside marketing needs to match our inside reality and vice versa. That rings true for businesses, for nonprofits, for churches, for city governments. The next chance you get, reflect upon how people perceive the good work that you do and how you’ve built a culture to bolster and build that up.
Thanks for reading and sharing.