A while ago, I was counseling a senior executive of a government bureau who was two years into shaping his agency to be more customer and results-centered. He rebuilt his 200-person group, propelled key actions, coached his staff on changing mindsets, and settled on some challenging personnel decisions. At about the same time these efforts were beginning to reveal positive outcomes, a new governor was named. His main goal? To shape my client’s agency to be more customer- and results-centered! What could this senior leader say? “That’s what we’re already doing” would have appeared defensive and resistant. He basically sat passively as his new manager laid out plans for stirring things up.
Can we blame people for judging companies on their culture?
We all spend such a high proportion of our lives at the office nowadays — it’s unsurprising that we care about our working environment. Most conversations on culture inevitably end up on perks. Which companies provide free lunch? Which offer gym memberships? Which gives you the best ‘stuff’?
Perks are great, (my table tennis has gone from strength to strength since joining Beamery), but they’re not the best way to attract talent.
Inevitably, there will always be a different company that can offer better ‘stuff’ — it’s not worth trying to compete.
The trick is creating an awesome working environment that makes your team excited to come to work—day in, day out. This is what candidates really care about.
People sometimes tell me that The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization (Harvard Business School Press, 1993) helped them understand the difference between great team experiences and terrible team experiences. These readers recognized the value of what my co-author, Doug Smith, and I called a “real team” — a team composed of people committed to common purposes, goals, and working approaches accepting of the diversity in others’ skills and perspectives. In real teams, members hold themselves and their teammates mutually accountable, because of their emotional commitment to the work and to one another. That’s how they get things done rapidly and effectively.