Most people spend their time at weddings drinking and eating cake. I look for keys to making better managers, and therefore, better businesses.
We spent last weekend at my sister-in-law's wedding, in Adana, Turkey. Her new husband is Turkish and the wedding was in his home town (where they now live). Here are 3 lessons I learned by attending my first Turkish wedding.
Don't forget about the "outsiders." A Turkish wedding is hosted by the groom's family, and boy was it. 650 people! Those of us from the bride's side didn't speak any Turkish, so we expected to be a bit isolated from the other guests. However, the groom's family took great care to make sure we were included in everything, always had someone who could translate, and were directly involved. We never felt uncomfortable even though the culture was entirely new to us. The music and dancing were a bit different from the American wedding standards (not a Chicken Dance to be had!), but someone was always coming up to us, inviting us onto the dance floor and showing us how to dance Turkish style.
Lessons for managers. You have your unique company culture, and that's great, but don't just throw your new hires to the lions and let them fend for themselves. Instead, work hard to integrate them into your culture. You may even need "translators" to help people understand that at this company you do things this way, and not that way. If you see someone sitting by himself at lunch, invite him to join you. Even though the main purpose of running a company is to make money, you can't do that if your employees feel left out and unappreciated.
Gold has its costs. The traditional gift in a Turkish wedding is gold, and lots of it. People pinned gold on the bride and groom and placed gold bracelets around the bride's wrists. My daughter has now announced her intention to marry a Turkish man, because there was a lot of gold flying around that wedding reception. However, the groom's older sister stood next to the happy couple as everyone gave their gift of gold. Her job? To make a mental note of who gave what, because for the rest of their lives, this couple will have to attend the weddings of their guests and their guests' children. The more gold someone gave you, the more you are expected to give their children when they marry.
Lesson for managers. All that venture capital money? That comes at a cost. The more you receive, the more you're going to be expected to pay out. With great gifts come great obligations and you better be prepared for that.
Fix, don't hide your flaws. I don't, generally wear makeup. (In fact, in the headshot that accompanies this article, I'm not wearing any.) But for a big wedding? Sure. A professional beautician slathered makeup all over my face and I looked fabulous--like I had perfect skin. Except, while I have very nice skin, it's not perfect. And eventually, the makeup had to come off, and it was quite difficult to do so. In fact, even after scrubbing my face multiple times, and completely saturating two wash clothes with various colors, the next day while we were hiking, I could smell the makeup working it's way out of my pores.
Lesson for managers. When you try to cover-up the flaws in your business, instead of fixing them, the cover- up eventually washes off and people can see your problems anyway. Now, you can continuously cover up your bad managers, bad policies, and bad culture, but just like leaving makeup on 24/7 will make your face break out, these bad things will pop through. And cleaning up the mess will be a huge pain the behind. Don't cover up your bad bosses, fire them. Don't keep your pay structures in the dark, expose them. It's healthier in the long run.