What do conference room names have to do with the culture of positivity?

More than you think.

A company's office speaks loudly about not just the company itself but also its leadership and its culture. Little things--like how internal traditions or employees' accomplishments are displayed, how people communicate with one another, and little things in the office that would make people smile, such as conference room names and funny pictures of co-workers--all have a huge impact on the overall culture of the firm.

Several researchers, including J.M. George in his article published in Human Relations and P. Totterdell in his article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, claim that a negative mood moves people into an entirely different way of thinking and acting. When people are feeling negative, they become critical of one another, which inhibits creative problem-solving. Negative people focus on the wrong. Contrariwise, a positive mood and attitude stimulates people to be creative, constructive, and generous. Positive attitude drives people to focus on the right solution vs. what's wrong.

One of the ways to promote the attitude of positivity within your company is to pay attention to every little opportunity to motivate people on an everyday basis. One of these (usually missed) opportunities is conference-room naming.

I could never understand the companies that blindly number the rooms and moved on. It is such an extraordinary opportunity to infuse positive and inspirational language into your employees' daily interactions and reinforce great experiences within your culture.

At Sprinklr, our conference rooms are named after the company's values. Honesty, Passion, Perseverance, Humility, Character, Courage, and Integrity are just some of the names you will encounter. My personal favorites are Awesomeness and 1+1=3. When I asked our founder, Ragy Thomas, why the leadership team chose to name conference rooms in this way, he said: "It would be kind of hard to be arrogant in a room named Humility, wouldn't it? Or give up in a room named Perseverance, don't you think?"

If you don't use conference room names to reinforce what is most important to you, you are wasting precious mindshare opportunity. Come to think of it--what other opportunities do you have to compel every employee to use these words over and over almost every day?

HubSpot is another company that takes conference-room naming seriously. The firm started with a tradition of naming conference rooms after people who inspire its founders, Dharmesh Shah and Brian Halligan. Most were marketers (Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki), business icons (Steve Jobs, Marc Benioff, Mark Zuckerberg), and role models (Gail Goodman, Warren Buffett), the kinds of people you'd admire at a fast-growing marketing software startup.

As HubSpot expanded into more parts of the building and built out other floors and offices over the years, the theme of "people who inspire us" continued and expanded to include more of the company's personal heroes. Engineering and product teams chose to name their rooms after iconic computer scientists and designers. Customer-reseller partner Paul Roetzer was the first customer to get a room named after him. The company's nap room is called Van Winkle. Company satellite offices in Ireland and Australia chose to name theirs after global (Bezos, Jobs, Musk, and Branson) and more local (Kennedy, Heaney, Guinness, Boole) business inspirations. The team is especially proud of having more than a handful of conference rooms in the mix that are named after great women who inspire them: Renee Mauborgne, Gail Goodman, Mary Meeker, Sheryl Sandberg, Nancy Duarte, Kathy Sierra, and many others.

The buildings at eBay's HQ in Campbell, California, are all named after categories on eBay.com: Collectibles, Community, Motors, Music, Sports, Technology, and Toys. All of the conference rooms are named in accordance with the theme of the buildings in which they're located--and are decorated with items bought on ebay.com. Rooms in Sports are named after stadiums, players, and sports; rooms in Music are named after various instruments and musicians. To go one step further, employees decorate the conference room of executives with items bought on eBay that reflect the personality and name of the individual.

To sum it up, take every little opportunity to consistently showcase your culture and infuse the positive language that reflects your culture and your values into your physical surroundings and employees' daily interactions. Enabling great experiences for your employees will enable great experiences for your customers.

Published on: Oct 21, 2014