The more I think about our eternal struggle to handle workplace issues, the more I come to the conclusion that there is one issue that drives all others.
It's all about culture.
When you focus on building a strong, sensible, vibrant culture that reflects great values, all the other workplace problems seem to take care of themselves.
Culture is the name of the game
I wrote about this recently when I noted that all the time, money, and effort spent to improve employee engagement doesn't seem to have done much of anything given that Gallup continues to find that only 32 percent of American workers are engaged on the job. And I added this:
Employee engagement? It’s yesterday’s news. Yes, it’s high time we gave up the ghost in this push to improve it and focus instead on building strong cultures and treating employees better.
Get that right and you won’t need to worry about engagement, because engagement will take care of itself.
Do you share the same values?
I view my role as the keeper of the culture, and so I spend my time in a relaxed way getting to know the person. If, for example, they know someone I know professionally, I’ll say, “Let’s compare notes on that person. What’s your take?” And I’ll listen for whether they judge that person the same way I do, and whether we share the same values.I’ll also ask about their families, about work-life balance, about the successes that they’ve had, both personally and professionally. I want to hear how they like to work, and the expectations they have of the people who work for them.
Being a good manager is really, really difficult
I think managing and leading people is a privilege. And I don’t think we always understand the impact that we have as managers on the people on our teams. I talk to our managers all the time about this. Do you really understand the impact you have? And if you really understand the impact, then how do your actions reflect that you understand that?I believe that people would rather have a lousy job working for a great person than a great job working for a bad manager. And I believe very strongly that the single largest component of a business that adds to shareholder value is great management, and the single largest destroyer of shareholder value is bad management.Now, being a good manager is really, really difficult. And the sooner people who are managers recognize that, the sooner they’ll start being a good manager. It takes unbelievable courage to be a good manager. It is hard to have difficult conversations with people when they’re not doing well. Who likes to do that? That takes courage. You can’t slide out of the way and hope it’s going to take care of itself.