Recently, I talked with a young woman who left her job after a little over a year. It was a small business with less than ten employees. There were a lot of reasons to leave including a pretty good commute of nearly 40 miles round trip and poor communications. (She asked off from work nearly five months before a wedding of a good friend and still had not heard back on the request just two months away!). This individual had gifts, talents and passion for the company’s products and service. They expected her to do her job, get rewarded (paid) and repeat. They did not value her working with them (Motivation 3.0*). They valued her working for them (Motivation 2.0*)
What an organization values is what drives practices, behavior and outcomes. Values are not words on the wall of the lobby or on the annual report. Values are the actions of its people from the bottom down and from the top up. Actions do speak louder than words. Culture matters no matter how big or small the organization.
Steve Sasson, electrical engineer with Eastman Kodak, is credited with inventing the digital camera in 1974. The image was only .01 megapixels! The advent of digital photography allowed us to enhance the conversation and understanding rather just record an event. Kodak and its culture saw the digital camera as a huge threat to its profitable film and print business. Kodak valued profit and success rather than creativity and significance. What gets valued becomes the culture and recorded legacy.
Culture is not about office design, outings, special perks (air hockey tables, exercise rooms, free vending machines) or salary.
Culture is about engagement, overcoming fear, reducing arrogance, promoting understanding, treating failure as an education, asking more than telling and recognizing all employees have value. A nurturing, healthy culture recognizes its people are the most important asset and makes it possible for them to bring forth their best to work—including their curiosity, wonder and challenges.
Healthy and nurturing culture encourages employees to work with rather than work for! Working with implies engagement, compassion and community.
How would the people on your team or in your organization respond to the question, “Do you feel you work for this organization or work with this organization?”
* Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink (Riverhead Books, 2011)