Our traditional season of vacations, leisure, and outdoor adventures is about to end. Now it’s back to school and back-to-work. It’s also time to kick off football and, for some, that job search was put to the side by summer vacation. The quiet times on the beach or in a hammock create reflection for many. It’s a good time then for every HR leader and C-suite executive to take stock of how their work culture is influencing their best people.
Is your culture the one your best people are leaving, or is it admired and even envied by your competitors? Will this be the year your best people leave your culture? Or will you be the leader and attract the best in your industry?
Us and Them
It’s become a bit of a cliché to say that people don’t leave companies; they leave managers. It’s often valid, yet that cliché creates an us/them mentality that is damaging in the workplace. Let’s challenge our thinking and recognize that “they,” — the managers we blame—are frequently facing the same concerns and complaints of those who are leaving! Indeed, the angst is felt from the bottom up.
Strong cultures, whether healthy or toxic, follow actions. Good actions coalesce and build toward great cultures. The wrong actions create toxicity and fester until your best people leave. Poor managers, job dissatisfaction, turnover, and organizational churn don’t simply happen. They are symptoms of a “mal-nurtured” culture. It’s not one group of managers nor a single manager than creates the malnourished culture. Yet, when left unchecked within the organization, bad actions create toxicity that can spread to all parts of this amorphous workplace biosystem we call culture.
Where it Begins
We have heard it before: culture starts at the top and cascades and permeates every inch of the organization. Yet, let’s face it, at times it’s hard to know every subculture that takes hold, good and bad within your total organization. It is hard at times to know, whether good actions and intent are being cascaded into every part of the organization. When you don’t know, aren’t sure, or don’t like the culture you see forming, it is time to evaluate the underlying tenets of your company culture, through an audit.
This biggest clue to a toxic culture is when staff is more eager to look outside the organization than to commit to remaining, finding the antidote to cure the culture mis-steps is crucial.
Five Minutes or Less to Tell Your Story
Culture can be looked at in many ways, yet one the quickest is to rank your company on a sliding scale of 1-10, one being the lowest or almost non-existent and ten being you are a culture rockstar, for each of these questions
- Leadership begins with me. Has the executive base created an environment in which every employee is a leader? Have the people at the top grown each level of the organization into respected leaders through actions, training, and opportunity? Does everyone understand that leadership doesn’t start with a title?
- Employees first. The company takes care of its employees first, and those employees take care of the company’s customers.
- Appreciation is like oxygen. Does every employee know that his or her contributions are valued, and do they recognize the ways in which they contribute to the organization’s overall success?
- Values are your lifeblood, and everyone knows to do the right thing all the time.
- Empowerment creates stakeholders. When employees feel truly connected to the business of the business, and believe they can make decisions, they have a personal stake in the success of the business. Do your employees have a clear understanding of which decisions they can make? Are they encouraged to do so? Does every employee recognize their path to empowerment?
- Create ambassadors for your brand. Has the environment fostered active ambassadorship in each employee?
- Care and well-being are more than a group health plan. Has the organization established principles of respect, integrity, work-life balance, and stress reduction and lived by those principles? Do your people feel able to take the time necessary to re-charge their batteries, enjoy their families, or has the midnight email chain become standard operating procedure?
- Career growth comes from within. Has the organization cracked the code to provide real-time career development and growth so that your very best can bloom within the company rather than looking outside it?
- Success is celebrated while risks are encouraged. Bold innovation comes from a willingness to accept risks and take the often-bumpy path of the pioneer. Mediocrity chooses the road always traveled, the one paved with good intentions. Is your organization open-minded, encouraging, and curious? Do your employees believe they can take risks? If so, where?
- Be a coach, not a boss. When things go wrong, as inevitably they will, are your first questions “Why did this happen?” and “Who was responsible?” Or, do you ditch these questions in lieu of an authentic opportunity to coach improvement? Here, the question becomes “What can we do differently to prevent this from happening in the future?”
- 100 Points: A culture to be admired, you are clearly on, or eligible for the speaking circuit of how to create the best cultures and know how to add share value through your people. Congratulations.
- 80-99: Certainly, on the right track. Can you easily identify the areas that need work?
- 65-79 points: Is good, good enough? There are likely some areas that need more exploration, planning and an action plan
- Below 64: What is Plan B when your best people leave?
Let CONVEX Leadership Help
Our mission at CONVEX Leadership is to help every client create their principal focus by optimizing their streams of light to forge an exciting spectrum of opportunities. Our team has more than 25 years of experience helping good cultures transform to leading workplace environments that people clamor to work for. Let us help you inspire your people.
Learn more about how CONVEX Leadership can help you perform a culture audit and create the committed team that your company deserves.