Below is an excerpt written by Joe Mechlinksi for Evolved Enterprise, a book authored by his business partner Yanik Silver. This piece focuses on the importance of culture as it relates to strategic employee engagement. In short, your organization’s culture and how successful you are (or aren’t) in employee engagement are intimately connected.
It’s time to get honest. If you put profits over people, your business will fail.
If you think a good business culture just happens, you’re wrong. If you believe your products or services are so phenomenal your work environment doesn’t matter, you might as well throw in the towel now.
If you view developing a successful culture and growing talent as anything but a top priority, you should reconsider, because in this world, culture is everything.
Organizations have always had a culture, but ensuring it is a positive and productive one hasn’t always been the focus. Historically, profits and egos were the most important driving factors behind a company, and opinions didn’t count unless they were from the head honchos. Fortunately, business has evolved — thanks to civil rights groups, women’s rights pioneers, and the millennial generation.
Yes, the millennials — people born from 1981 to 1996. They have completely changed the business environment, because culture is the only thing this generation cares about. That’s why companies like Zappos and Google (who employ lots of millennials) constantly make headlines for setting the bar, blazing the trail, and truly elevating the idea that culture is THE priority, not just a priority.
Why have so many companies been slow to catch on?
Because people are the driving factor behind culture, and unless you have a PhD in organizational behavior, psychology, or neuroscience, you probably don’t know how to influence, motivate, and inspire the most complex being on the planet — the human.
The world has changed a lot faster than we can handle — including the way we think, the way we communicate, and what we know about people. We once thought the three C’s “compliance, control, and compensation” were the best way to lead people, when in fact there is hard science to back up the premise that we should focus on three P’s “purpose, passion, and performance.” Dan Pink does a great job of explaining this — what he calls “Motivation 3.0” — in his book Drive.
When something is broken, we replace it rather than work to make it better. We have stopped sticking with things, favoring replacement over commitment. As a society, we are no longer committed to seeing things through, putting in the hard work to make something last, or figuring out how to fix something. This cultural shift causes major problems in business.
As a human race, we are settling. A staggering 70% of the American workforce is not engaged in their work, according to Gallup’s 2013 “State of the American Workplace” report. Of those seventy percent, 50% are sleepwalking through their jobs, and 20% are miserable. We are so complacent that instead of leaving a poor job for something more meaningful, we stay. Don’t confuse this behavior with commitment. If we were committed, we would be trying to make things better. No — 70% of the American workforce isn’t doing that. They’re staying put, settling, and letting their lives pass them by, not out of commitment, but out of complacency.
Societal character creates a huge problem for our business environment. Everybody gripes about the government, with good reason — it’s a mess. But the real problem is that the vast majority of people are completely ignorant about politics and government. They have no idea how a bill is passed, how the Electoral College works, or what the Supreme Court’s purpose actually is. Yet, despite a lack of actual knowledge, there is no shortage of opinions, complaints, or heckles from the peanut gallery.
To make matters worse, the minority who do understand politics have stopped listening or learning, and no longer work toward, or even look for, progress. The few who are actively engaged in the political landscape don’t think about long-term consequences or big-picture repercussions; and as a result, they keep voting in the same ineffective people and plugging the same unproductive party lines. And employees carry this attitude into their workplaces, preferring to remain ignorant of the impact of their actions and choices on the business as a whole or its long-term goals.
To have an awake and engaged culture, we must learn about all different aspects of life and be able to come up with our own ideas based on knowledge and comprehension. To change a business culture, each member of the organization must be encouraged to wake up and pay attention to all the information that is relevant to the company’s success, whether they agree with it or not. And leaders need to be mindful of the opinions of their employees when they are based on knowledge or experience.