If you were given the freedom to set up your work routine so it best suited you for success, what would you change? Would you change anything?
I ask those questions a lot. The most common answers include: “That would never happen.” and “I just want to punch in and punch out without anyone bothering me.” and “More money.” and “More time off.” It is rare someone will ponder for a moment and then respond with creative ideas, non-traditional approaches, result-focused plans, or even hint at a more balanced life.
In my experience, employers have been fearful and even voiced their strong reservations about the concepts I suggest about how people work. That is expected. When people confuse freedom with chaos, it takes some time to understand the true culture shift – from control to support. However, when it is the employees who show a lack of interest in creating change, that is when it is most challenging. Without employees belief in the possibility of change, the culture will stagnate.
So, though your manager may be uber strict and your company culture stuck in the 1950′s, if given the opportunity to make changes….would you?
Work should be the driver, the motivation, the inspiration, and yes, the reward. Between employees who take jobs for every reason but the work and employers who focus on everything but the work, realizing this can be difficult. Hell, it can be soul crushing.
This is why I believe education must be the first step in the hiring process. During one’s education, students should be challenged to think about the world. They should be encouraged to discover what their talents and gifts are and how such things can affect the world. Students need to be given time, resources, and inspiration to realize their authenticity rather than be conformed to fit some hiring standard.
How organizations establish its culture (rules, policies, processes, structure, etc) needs to become more fluid and adaptable. To continue believing one-size-fits-all is not only inaccurate, but also may be limiting the potential of hiring some truly special people. Orgs should be recruiting people to “do great work” not “work at a great place.” Giving people freedom to discover how their talents can deliver organizational objectives can be transformative.
Check out this great article about “hiring for attitude and training for skills.”
Organizations invest so much time, effort, and money into trying to make the workplace fun and happy. Please stop. It’s usually quite embarrassing. Adult sing-a-longs, funny shirt Tuesdays, and bring your pet to work Fridays are lame and often times, awkward.
I mean really, who doesn’t enjoy a dog crapping under their desk while the owner is cluelessly singing a horrible rendition of Celebration in a hideous Hawaiian shirt?
What organizations need to focus on is making work fun and happy. Give employees the freedom to get creative with customer service. Ask them to make fun, informative videos for customers. Ask them to create blog content about the company or industry and allow their personalities to shine through.
The workplace is the stage. The employees are the players. The work is the play. Have fun. Be awesome.
Do you call what you do for a living your job or your career?
Do you love what you do or endure what you do?
Do you do it for the cash on payday or the joy of it every day?
Do your Mondays feel no different than your Saturdays?
Do you stand up or shut up about how best you can be successful?
Do you accept organizational politics or openly address issues?
Do you feel appreciated or unnoticed?
Do you create change or languish in the status quo?
Do you respect the purpose of your work or do you see it merely as a task?
Do you believe a workplace should be about work not a clubhouse for socializing?
Do you feel balanced or flustered?
Do you care or do you not?
When organizations talk about boosting morale, the focus is an obvious attempt to make people happy, now. That’s when ideas like company sponsored outings, reward programs, group sing-a-longs, and balloon parades on Fridays usually get rolled out.
Sure, those kinds of quick fixes may put a smile on an employee’s face, but how long lasting will such and approach prove to be? The root cause of low morale is rarely a shortage of lollipops. It goes deeper than happy-time. An organization which believes it’s suffering from a case of low morale needs to engage, interview, and listen to ALL the employees.
Some employees may be in need of additional training. Some employees may be dealing with personal hardships. Some employees may be experiencing issues with collaboration. Some employees may feel unchallenged. Some employees may not feel supported by their manager. Some employees may not be the right fit for the role they have in the organization.
A once-a-month meeting about company values won’t get to the core of those issues. And quite frankly, for in-house management or leadership to not make the effort to have regular one on one conversations with employees to discover more about the employees is part of the problem.
This is why organizational culture should be nurtured, respected, and adapted. Boosting morale is short-term, whereas culture change is long-term.
The speaker, Nick Hanauer, shares a perspective about the economy I agree with. However, after considering his circumstances and the eloquence of his delivery, I think others may want to watch it as well. It’s a short chat. Some of the finer points include:
“If taxes on the rich go up, job creation will go down.”
“Consider that for thousands of years, humans believed that the earth was the center of the universe.”
“If there was no consumer around who could afford to buy what we had to sell, all those companies and all those jobs would have evaporated.”
“Jobs are a consequence of a circle of life-like feedback loop between customers and businesses. An ordinary consumer is more a of a job creator than a capitalist.”
“Rich people do not create jobs, but when the middle class thrives, businesses grow and hire and owners profit.”
“Here’s an idea worth spreading, taxing the rich to make investments that make the middle class grow and thrive is the single shrewdest thing we can do for the middle class, for the poor, and for the rich.”
Every semester and with every class I teach, I ask my students what they want to do with their lives. Some respond confidently and share their chosen major. Others present a hybrid of interests and some simply shrug their shoulders and tell me they don’t know.
I follow up by asking why do they want to do what they shared. The responses range from, “My parents told me its a good field” to “The money is good” to “I don’t know.” I cannot recall one instance when a student jumped out of their seat with excitement and went into detail about their dreams or passions.
That bothers me.
We should be creating opportunities for children and teenagers to discover their inner gifts. We should encourage them to pursue interests with passion. We should try to inspire them to think creatively. We should give them what they need to be authentic.
We should stop telling our youth to do things how we did things. We need to stop framing a career as something that is done to make money. Instead, we should talk about careers as opportunities for people to share their special gifts with the world and make some money along the way.
Imagine your work environment as a resource. Thinking of your office as a resource means thinking of it as something you need to achieve an outcome.
Think of it this way. When you need to make a call, you pick up the phone. Send an email, you pick up the phone. Make a video call, you pick up the phone. Research anything, you pick up the phone. OK. Bad example.
My point is not the vast capabilities of mobile technology – though, you can’t ignore them. My real point is, when employees understand the expectations, they tend to seek out the necessary resources needed to achieve the outcome. Yea, employees are neat like that. Of course, some employees may need coaching or training and some may not be suited for the role.
Free the employees to determine the necessary resources. It may be the office. It may be their phone. It may be their favorite cafe or their backyard. If the outcome is achieved, what difference does it make?
Sit Down Sunday is a series meant for you to take a break from the hustle and bustle of your life and sit down to have your soul touched, your mind expanded, and your heart warmed. I hope you enjoy and are inspired by these stories, videos, images, and thoughts…
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