Evive Book Club Report: The Culture Code
When the Evive Book Club began two years ago, the intention was to carve out time for employees across all areas of the organization to share insights and knowledge. As the company has grown, a regular opportunity to connect with one another to share such inspiration feels all the more valuable and grounding.
With these sentiments in mind, our recent Book Club selection, The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle, was particularly timely. Coyle’s book examines what makes successful groups so successful, and proposes three basic skills that lay the foundation for “working together in a smarter way”—and sustaining a thriving workplace culture.
Each of these skills builds on each other logically, and each one has important takeaways that we observed as a group. Let’s examine them below:
When people don’t feel safe, they can’t do their best work. In this context, safety isn’t about being protected from danger, but rather a struggle with what Coyle calls “status management.”
If employees feel hesitant to communicate truthfully, their “underlying behavior is riddled with inefficiency, hesitation, and subtle competition. Instead of focusing on the task, they are navigating their uncertainty about one another. They spend so much time managing status that they fail to grasp the essence of a problem.” Feeling unsafe isn’t just unpleasant—it’s an epic waste of time.
Early in Evive’s development, co-founder Peter Saravis created a set of guiding principles called The Evive Way. These suggest a value system for how Evivers operate, and with an emphasis on collaboration, transparency, and ethics, The Evive Way is a key part of how we build safety at Evive. As Peter puts it, “The rules of engagement at Evive really start with The Evive Way. Everyone can share their opinions, and we can disagree on those opinions, thoughts, and visions. But we respect the fact that people have them and are here to do just that.”
One of the simplest but most impactful ways safety is demonstrated at Evive is the fact that nobody eats at their desks; rather, lunch is enjoyed in the kitchen. This is a daily opportunity for Evivers to come together in what Coyle calls a “safe, collision-rich space.” Connections that develop in the kitchen extend into the workday, and the same comfort that individuals establish while talking about their favorite food or weekend plans influences the way they collaborate to solve problems or create new products.
Vulnerability might not intuitively seem like something to practice at work, but Coyle explains that “vulnerability loops” are “the most basic building block of cooperation and trust.” When people allow themselves to be vulnerable, they can better connect and collaborate with their colleagues (and foster those feelings of safety). Vulnerability shows there’s an opportunity to help, and opens the door for coworkers to suggest solutions to problems.
At Evive, we display vulnerability in a very public way during our All Staff meetings. All Staff is a monthly, company-wide status report, where we discuss everything from wins and losses to big events and small details: the good, the bad, and everything in between. This has helped us create an environment of transparency and inclusion, where questions are welcomed and everyone is brought into the loop.
Once people feel safe with and trust one another, having a shared vision creates a synergistic effect. Coyle describes how organizations like Johnson & Johnson, the Portuguese police force, and highly trained surgical teams work together as a singular, unified entity when they share a purpose that is clearly understood and agreed upon.
For Evivers, the shared purpose is to help people love their benefits. We work to create the feeling of benefits love in every experience and product that we build. In the words of CEO and co-founder Prashant Srivastava, “Every time we build a new feature, we say, ‘Is this getting the employee closer to benefits love?’ We always ask that question in everything we’re doing.”
That shared vision makes a true difference in how we view our work. Knowing that we are creating life-changing outcomes for people helps motivate Evivers every day.
It’s what you do
As Evive continues to grow, taking action to maintain and practice the core values of our culture is more important than ever. Coyle points out that “Culture is a set of living relationships working toward a shared goal. It’s not something you are. It’s something you do.” Reading The Culture Code only reinforced our commitment to that.