For any business to succeed, it needs people. The best product, greatest of strategies and most innovative ideas will not achieve any desired outcomes in the absence of a strong organisational culture. Effective organisational cultures place as much value in its people as it does in business. Often though, business comes first, and people are treated like machines – there to produce outputs for the sake of a business’s success. Outcomes are expected without any consideration of people’s wellbeing.
In a fast-paced, complex, “always-on” environment, management expect employees to sacrifice their personal time in order to meet deadlines, targets or chase objectives. The company takes more and more from an individual and is angered when the individual says NO or I CAN’T, or I’M TIRED or I’M BURNED OUT. Not to mention raising concerns around work-life balance or family time. I am often baffled by the lack of consideration for people’s personal lives, their mental and physical wellbeing and the ignorance of management in terms of how this impacts on operational efficacy. So many employees feel they have to hide their unhappiness because of fear of losing their jobs. So what happens instead of speaking up, instead of employers recognising the damage being done due to unhappiness and overworking? To name just a few things – absenteeism due to illness or faked illness, low morale, gossip, a lack of productivity, a non-engaged workforce, no loyalty, no trust. All of which are massive contributors to why businesses fail, why strategies are not effectively realised, and why innovation crumbles.
As in all relationships, a working relationship between an employer and an employee requires authentic connections. Line managers are always the first tier of leadership. They should be responsible for demonstrating authenticity and integrity, for cultivating a culture of sharing information, fairness, for showing interest and care in individuals, for maximising employee skills and encouraging development. They should actively be motivating employees to ensure that morale is kept up as much as possible and that there is a sense of team spirit. When leaders in an organisation show humbleness, care, consideration, understanding, leniency, and tolerance of its employees, employees show care for the company’s outcomes in return and want to do more, not because they have to.
Rewards and incentive programmes are great, but not enough. Often what people value more is appreciation in just two words – THANK YOU! Gratitude has always been incredibly powerful. Recognition of individual and team achievements also always go a long way. Don’t celebrate successes in the boardroom with management; take it to the ground. Don’t communicate urgency and challenges by asking for more, do so by asking your employees to come along with you on a journey of challenges together. Celebrating employees creates a culture of pride in collective achievements and adds considerable value to employees happiness at work and satisfaction in their jobs.
Trust in the leaders of an organisation must be earned from the top. If you are a leader, think about what you do and say to your employees in crunch times. Think about what you do and say to your employees during times of success. Think about what you do and say to your employees during times of failure. Think about what you do and say to your employees in tough situations. Are you honest, are you in the front cheering them on? Are you in the front reassuring them you have their back? It’s shocking how often management answers favourably in respect of all of the above. Yet, they are surrounded by people who only recognise them as being in charge but do not follow them, are not loyal to them, and who despise the start of every working day, and look forward to the end of it, every day, day in and day out.
I don’t know why it is so difficult for management to consult from time to time, for line managers to just listen, and I don’t understand why it is so difficult for managers to just say when they don’t know something. Why is it that vulnerability is such a no go area for people in management positions. Why is so much focus on instruction and the business of the day, and not in the nurturing of relationships with the people who make it all happen?
Ensuring a culture of balance and showing respect for employees personal lives, and having boundaries is essential to building loyalty. An example of this is encouraging employees to take annual leave – people shouldn’t be prevented from this and shouldn’t feel guilty about it. Rewarding continuous effort and successes with time off, even when there are long ongoing critical projects, can be so beneficial to improved productivity. A little time out, coming back refreshed and grateful equals more efficiency with a rested mind and body.
It is sad to see successful organisations and successful teams breakdown. More effort needs to go into ensuring there is humanity in organisations.
Until next time…
Yours in Adapting & Being