Peeling the Label on Your Agency Culture

Written By: Sirvan Jackson

Your team culture is more than a label and most importantly effected by many more factors than you think. Consider teams that identify as “transparent”, “open”, or “diversified”. These labels, while descriptive, may not always capture the essence of the actual team dynamics.

This concept of labeling brought to mind the three major cities I’ve had the privilege to call home:

  • “The city of Brotherly Love” where I was raised. A label suggesting unity and togetherness.
  • “The Big Apple” where I worked for the first decade of my career.
    Synonymous with success and ambition.
  • “The Eternal City” where I’ve settled down with my wife and kids. Where people think of timelessness and beauty.

I don’t need to tell you the name of these cities because those labels speak for themselves. But are they are true?

  • The city of Brotherly Love had the highest murder rate per captia in 2021
  • The Big Apple (which is a metaphor of success) has more than 90,000 people sleeping on the street every night
  • The Eternal City is drowning in garbage

Don’t get me wrong I love these cities. But the point is, labels don’t mean anything they are as easy to take off as they are to put on.

How, then, should we view our team culture?

Team culture is an evolving entity, not just a static set of characteristics. It’s shaped by every interaction, decision, and individual within the team. Here are some additional aspects to consider:

  • Adaptability: How well does the team adjust to new challenges or changes in the environment?
  • Growth Minded: A culture that encourages continuous learning and growth, not just in skills but in perspectives.
  • Brave Space: Cultivating an environment where team members feel empowered to express ideas, challenge norms, and take risks. It’s about fostering courage over comfort, encouraging candid discussions, and enabling individuals to speak and act with conviction.
  • Inclusivity: A culture that genuinely values diverse perspectives not only in theory but in practice.

In the end, team culture, much like the essence of a city, is not just about the labels we attach to it. It’s about the lived experiences, the daily interactions, and the collective values that emerge over time. It’s better to strive for cultures that are not just labels on a wall but living, breathing ecosystems that grow and evolve with us.

Instead we should build teams where inclusivity, adaptability, and bravery are not just buzzwords, but realities we cultivate through our actions and decisions. Remember, a label is only as meaningful as the truth it represents.