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Company Culture Matters…More Than Ever

It seems more apparent as time goes on that the Great Resignation is more the Great Job Hop. Some people are indeed leaving the work force but most of the resignations are just people looking for something better. And “better” does not necessarily mean more money.

I’ve heard from a striking number of people in just the last 30 days that the reason they have left their current job is poor culture at their employer. They all have different definitions of what culture means to them but there are some common threads. 

People understand their organization’s need for increased profitability. What they don’t understand is why it seems to come at their expense. As companies report some really good earnings those increased earnings don’t seem to be reflected in their paychecks. They are willing to make whatever sacrifices are needed to help the company. But when the company’s top earners receive salary increases multiple times what theirs are they see a culture problem.

As companies chase the almighty dollar they would be wise to not do it on the backs of the people who create, sell and service the products that bring those dollars in. 

Companies need to keep foremost in their mind that regardless of what they build, sell or service they are primarily in the people business. Failure to demonstrate that they understand that fact on a regular basis will cause people to believe that they don’t understand it at all.

When an organization’s leadership team is disconnected from their employees the employees see a culture problem. When the leadership team tells themselves that culture survey results are wrong then it’s the leadership team who is creating the culture problem.

But here’s the thing, culture surveys can be wrong. In fact, I’d say they are often wrong. I think they seldom reflect the actual “mood” of the organization.

Virtually every person who I’ve talked to over the last 30 days said that they left their job because the company they worked at didn’t care about the employees anymore. Many said their companies only cared about the bottom line. They also said they would never say that in a culture survey in case they “had” to stay working there. But interestingly, they also said they wouldn’t say that in an exit interview because they viewed that as burning bridges.

That makes it imperative that an organization’s leadership team stay connected to their people. Regular one on one communication can provide a clear view of people’s thoughts, feelings and motivations. No survey can replace even a short “off the cuff” conversation if a leader is really interested in what their people are thinking. 

It appears however in these days of the Great Resignation that whether leaders are actually interested in what their people think is a mighty big if. 

The late business management guru, Peter Drucker, is quoted as saying that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” He may have been right in his time but today that is an incomplete statement. Today that quote should say “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, lunch and dinner.” Because today, the culture of an organization has never mattered more.

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