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What’s a Culture Team and Why Do You Need One?

by Caroline Boyland March 30, 2022

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“We have a great culture” – every company, ever.

We see it everywhere. On job descriptions, LinkedIn, Instagram, and even TikTok, businesses are boasting about their company culture, and how it differs from the rest. But as many of us know, having a good company culture is easier said than done, and it takes a lot more than declaring “we have a great culture” for it to actually stick.

So, how do you take culture from a list of values pinned to the wall, and turn it into a living, breathing entity that employees can actually feel, whether they’re in the office, working remotely, or some hybrid of the two?

Introducing: A Culture Team

Culture teams have been gaining popularity over the past few years, and for good reason. For a period of time, the pandemic shifted almost all workplaces to either hybrid or remote work environments. Meaning, businesses that once relied on their office space and office perks to curate culture needed to rethink their approach in order to pull that culture through to a virtual-first environment.

To take on this challenge, many organizations began appointing individuals to a Culture Team. This team usually consists of unique individuals across the organization that come together to think of new and creative ways to build a strong culture within the (in person/remote/hybrid) workplace.

To better understand what makes a great Culture Team, we sent over a few questions to the Culture Team at Nayya. Two members of the Nayya Culture Team, Lisa Carpenter, Sr. Software Engineer and Brad Londin, Sr. Strategic Partner Manager were kind enough to take the time to share their story with us. Here’s what they had to say:

Q: How would you describe the Nayya Culture Team?

A: We are currently a group of nine Nayyans across several business functions who share a common goal: promoting a healthy work environment that fosters the advancement of our people and achievement of our team’s goals.

Members of the Culture Team engage with one another in a monthly meeting, on a project breakout basis, and regularly via our private slack channel. We endeavor to collect and share feedback from our teams and deliver intentional programming in support of our common goal.

Q: What has the Culture Team accomplished?

A: The Culture Team was created in October 2021, and during the last six months we have made progress in three areas: events and programming, company traditions, and celebrating and empowering individual Nayyans. We’ve taken a deliberate approach, focusing on our remote workforce that’s physically separated from our lively office, emphasizing opportunities to interact in ways that create a sense of belonging, and ultimately our sense of place at Nayya.

Many Nayyans have come to enjoy our virtual company-wide lunches that offer themed breakout rooms, where unexpected discussions have ensued about the haunted places near one’s home and how much some love watching curling in the Olympics. Trivia Night is widely regarded to be a favored event, and while it can be hard to squeeze out time during the day, the interactions supported by Culture Team members are having an impact.

We’ve also been working hard to build on the many Nayyan traditions, some of which were started on day one, and others that have grown organically, or even those yet to be dreamed up. Forums that bring the entire company together include meetings such as All Hands, War Room, the Product Enablement Series, Community Day, office lunches and happy hours, and new hire spotlights and birthday celebrations. And then there’s hearing the gong ringing in a deal, or the next best thing, seeing the virtual gong being rung in Slack.

Q: Can you tell us more about the history behind ringing the gong?

A: “The gong, in sales culture, symbolizes a “high-five” to celebrate the closing of a deal. We’ve used it as a way to celebrate a big win and share the excitement across the company,” explains Katie Davis. For those who don’t know, Katie Davis is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to sales. The gong has been rung on her behalf at least 30 times to celebrate deals closed in the last year alone!

Victoria Treyger (a lead Series A investor and board member) presented Nayya with the gong upon closing the first deal, which happened to be with Guardian. Aman Magoon, Head of Product, had the honor of ringing the gong for the very first time. “It felt like the beginning of a rich tradition of sales excellence.”

The gong has become such a part of the sales culture at Nayya, that Nayya’s very own Brad Londin even wrote a short poem about it:

Never tire of that reverberation, Upon deals closed, Nayya’s exclamation, Another over the line, we celebrate! Upon deals closed, Nayya’s exclamation, Another over the line, we celebrate! From the engine to the caboose, On the gong the mallet is turned loose, It’s moxie, with gratitude and ferocity, not fate. ~ Brad Londin

Q: What else is in store for the Culture Team this year?

A: The Culture Team has taken a very intentional approach to ensuring individuals are celebrated and empowered, as we recognize how accumulation of little things can amount to a big difference. Most recently, Nayya has created our version of the TED talk, an opportunity for any Nayyan to share their perspectives on something industry related, or present on a skill or hobby that they wish to share with colleagues. A maxim of the Culture Team is that our uniqueness as individuals adds to the greater strength of the whole. We also know that every Nayyan can have a profound impact on our ways of working, that learning from failures is even more important than toasting victories, and that our culture lives with each and every employee regardless of their title or tenure.

We’re fortunate to have doubled our employee roster over the last six months, and with this growth comes a renewed focus of the Culture Team, enabling every Nayyan to contribute to our customs and impact our rituals.

Key takeaways

So there you have it, some tips, tricks, and practices from Nayya’s very own Culture team. If you’re looking to develop or strengthen your own culture team, here are some key takeaways I pulled from our conversation:

  1. Meet regularly, and bring feedback from teams across the organization to ensure everyone is being heard
  2. If you, like us, are a hybrid workplace, focus on bridging the gap between those working from home and those in the office to create a sense of community and belonging across the board 3.** Celebrate the small wins** just as much as the big wins
  3. Create dialogue that’s not directly focused around work to help employees find common interests and hobbies
  4. **Foster creativity **and celebrate unique talents (like Brad’s poetry!)
  5. Stay nimble, grow with the company, and keep your company values at the forefront of everything you do

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