"Jane was a ten year employee. Her new manager was motivated and came to the organization with a great reputation. But Jane's new manager was more focused on her own success, how she looked to upper management, and whether or not her next promotion was in her line of sight. As communication shut down, Jane felt more and more disconnected from the company. Her manager's tunnel vision alienated Jane to the point that she finally resigned."
"Sally was an average employee. She did enough to get the work done, and was reliable. As her organization went through a series of changes it seemed that Sally couldn't do anything right. It felt like the new rules of accountability switched overnight. Sally didn't think this was fair, and decided to look outside the organization for help with her new problem."
"Theresa used to fit in with her coworkers just fine. As time went by however, some new people joined the department and the culture changed. She was now an outsider who wouldn't go along with the new majority that weren't as dedicated or hard-working. She felt peer pressure to change her work ethic so as not to make the others look bad. She couldn't understand why the job she loved for so many years was now making her dread coming to work each day."
Exceptions or Common?
Have you ever heard stories like these before? I have too. There is something strange about how workplace cultures can evolve and change. At a high level many companies work incredibly hard to develop and sustain corporate cultures that reflect the goals and aspirations of what those leaders believe in. Mission, Vision, and Culture Statements are important tools that spread the message across the institution.
The reality of culture however does not play out at the enterprise level. True culture manifests itself in departments, units, offices, break rooms, and in the endless number of interactions with internal and external customers on an individual level. That is where the culture lives, thrives, or slowly decays.
Leadership Makes or Breaks Culture
In order for the three scenarios above to have positive outcomes one thing must happen. The organization's leadership must commit to providing a resource for employees beyond their normal chain of command.
Whether they are called employee advocates, employee ombudsman or simply that the message is clear that all team members have full access to human resources; the culture must fully support the notion that each employee's voice is important and will be heard.
Without a formal mechanism in place, the ability to build the sought after corporate culture will never fully be realized.
How About You
What are you doing to ensure your employee's voices will be heard? Are they trapped in the archaic follow-the-chain-of-command world; or, have you helped lead the way to a workplace that takes care of it's own people?
I'd love to hear from you.