Corporate Culture and the Secret Sight of Bees

Paul Hebert Culture, Paul Hebert

I was thinking employer branding the other day.  You know, creating a brand that employees will want to “like” on facebook, tattoo on their forehead, recommend their kids work for – all the stuff you read about Zappos and their ilk.

What also occurred to me is that corporate culture may not be a “single” culture – but a mélange of opinions about your company culture loosely held together by a common thread (or threads.)

Bees See the World Differently

I remembered reading a while back that bees (yeah… the stinging insect possibly responsible for all life on earth) don’t see flowers the way we do.  As an example, we see the flower below.



A bee sees the same flower in this way…


The difference is that their eyes see into the ultraviolet spectrum and ours don’t.

Reality is What We See

All things visible are visible because light bounces off of them and is interpreted by our eyes.  If we have the capability to see ultraviolet light, we see that in the image.  If we don’t, we don’t.  It’s not that the light isn’t there – it’s just we aren’t built to see it.

Culture is similar.  Culture is the light that bounces off the company and is reflected back to the employee. Based on their capability to see certain things, they will experience the culture differently.

If an employee worked at Enron say, they probably have a very acute perception of graft and corruption. They’ve seen it before so they’re on the lookout for it.  On the other end of the spectrum (pun intended), if an employee worked at Netflix – they might see the autonomy part of your culture before they see the greed part – they’re just wired that way.

In other words – your culture isn’t what you say it is or want it to be or even what you see, but what the individual sees in the messages you send out.  Because each employee sees different wavelengths, your message needs to be conveyed through different processes, styles, people and tools to ensure that the message is getting received.

As you look across your employee base, ask yourself – are they seeing what you want them to see?  And how do you know what they are actually seeing?  If you don’t have the capability to see in the same wavelength as them – how will you even know if the message is getting missed – or misinterpreted?

You need to have your managers talking and asking and getting info on the message and the impact.

You need to make sure your messages on culture are broadcast across the widest spectrum so that ALL the employees can see the core messages of your company culture.

It ain’t easy.  But if you take the time to craft your messages correctly, the results are very sweet.