One day last week I walked into the neighborhood sub shop to grab some lunch. I dropped off my laptop at a table and went to the counter to order. Nodding to my appearance, an older gentleman behind me said, “Now there’s someone with the right idea – this guy’s taking the day off!” Perhaps my shorts and un-tucked shirt sent a message of casual relaxation. Maybe it was my calm demeanor. Or it could have simply been that fact that I was out and about midday. Whatever it was, something about me said: This is not a guy at work. Ironically, that day had already brought about more than one work-related fire, a new client pitch, and a paper that needed finishing. I turned around, smiled, and replied, “Man, I’m always working!”
And so it is: We are in the midst of a full-fledged work-life revolution. Everything’s starting to look different, to feel different, and slowly, to actually be different. Work and life are morphing – both things happening in both places. People have been “bringing work home” with them for decades. But more and more, people are now bringing home to work. Just because they go to an office, people don’t feel the need to leave “who they are” behind. In fact, who people are is becoming an increasingly important ingredient in many successful companies.
While culture and change are typically defined and disseminated from the top-down based on things like market conditions and investor pressure, this radical shift is bubbling up from the bottom. The fact is that people are beginning to care less about money and more about lifestyle. They’re willing to trade some amount of compensation for more happiness. “This is how we’ve always done it” doesn’t do it anymore. Rewarding people for thinking and doing things the same as they always have does not result in forward motion. Organizations are beginning to recognize the value of creativity, thinking differently, and challenging the status quo – all to the benefit of new and revitalized company cultures.
It’s quite the antithesis of how our parents and grandparents worked. Shorts and sneakers did not fly. That “old guard” believed you dressed the part and you clocked in and out with pride; work was for work, and home was for home. Today, however, there’s a whole different set of values and motives for workers. Driven by the individual and enabled by technology, corporate cultures steeped in “old guard” mentalities are being challenged and transformed to accommodate the rise of this “new guard.”
How do we know? Here’s what we’re seeing:
Companies need to acknowledge that no business model is forever, and no leadership team is forever. If the old guard doesn’t self-attack and invite the new guard to the party, then the company will suffer the consequences. Where do you draw the hard lines, the guidelines, and no lines?
Ask yourself these questions:
Innovation isn’t just about technology anymore; you need to innovate to drive culture change in your organization. If you look around, there are people waiting for this to happen. You can harness all of their pent up energy. Make it ok for them to create some discomfort, to challenge the status quo, to push the company in a new direction.
Calling all old guard leaders… The stage is set. This is happening whether you like it or not. The groundswell is only going to grow. To keep the good people, go and meet them where they are. You might be surprised what the new guard can do for your culture, your company, and your business outcomes.