Inspire Them and They Will Come

Your environment shapes your culture – but we don’t often think about the context of the environment.

What is context in this context? I’m glad you asked.

Let’s say you know a person whose baseline behavior is generally loud and boisterous. You might believe they’re always that way.

But, if you take them to an art museum, they tend to lower their voice and be less boisterous without needing to be told to do so.

A museum is full of context clues and social cues that influence a person’s behavior.

The same goes for a business.

It may not be immediate, but if you throw a person into a beige-on-beige-on-beige cubicle, in an office where most conversation is complaining or gossiping and everything is dictated by strict procedures, their behavior will change to match the environment.

On the flipside, if you put a person into a creative environment, you get to see who they are and what they’re capable of. Even the most linear of people will flourish more in the context of a creative environment.

I’ve said it so often, it’s practically a slogan: Your corporate culture is the number one reason people will choose to stay at your company or to leave it.

A recent Pew Research Center study specifically targeted at gaining a better understanding of “The Great Resignation” found that of the top five reasons given for quitting a job in 2021, four were related to culture.

People quit because they don’t feel respected, because they don’t see opportunities for advancement, and because of a lack of flexibility.

An extensive study released by MIT Sloan Management Review did an even deeper dive, finding that a toxic work culture is the biggest factor pushing employees out the door during the Great Resignation.

“A toxic corporate culture is 10.4 times more powerful than compensation in predicting a company’s attrition rate compared with its industry.” - MIT Sloan Management Review

In addition, they found that work-life balance, manageable workload, and recognition are critical factors in employee retention. Companies that push their teams too hard and/or fail to recognize and reward strong performers have significantly higher quit rates.

At Roma, we’ve been analyzing the effects of autonomy in the workplace for several years and the benefits are unquestionable. The level of flexibility and autonomy we offer is one of the reasons we have great workforce retention.

In fact, we do very little “managing” of behavior, instead, focusing output and results.

If one person can arrive at output that exceeds our expectations in 6 hours instead of 8 – that’s fantastic! But that doesn’t mean we pay them less than the person who takes 8 hours to accomplish the same thing.

Perhaps the clearest truth to come out of the Great Resignation thus far is that people place a great deal of value on flexibility, trust, and autonomy.

We’re far from perfect at it, and often the only way to connect the dots that show the path forward is by looking in the rearview mirror. And we’re taking small steps, every day, to become a company that is more flexible, trusting, and autonomous.

Some of you may struggle with those three words as an employer.

For decades, we’ve labored under the belief that you’re only productive if you’re at your workstation and that every minute you spend away from the task at hand is “time theft.”

But that world has passed. If you’re in pursuit of recruiting and retaining top talent, you have to shift your focus to happiness and productivity over micromanaging every minute.

If not, that’s fine too. Keep doing what you’re doing… but don’t complain when your productivity is mediocre at best.

If you, as a manager, are constantly looking over your team’s shoulders and monitoring their time, not only are you wasting yours, you’re only going to attract and keep employees who know how to LOOK busy. And your productivity will suffer.

The secret to attracting and retaining great talent is to truly value your people and creating success metrics collaboratively. Make it clear and unambiguous.

Take a Pulse:

• How would you describe the culture of your company?

• Do you approach running your company with a scarcity mindest where you need to track every penny?

• What three words would your customers use to describe your company brand?

• What are people saying about your company?

• How are you making customers feel?

• Do you think of having employees as a headache or a blessing?

If you think your employees are stealing from you when they take too long in the bathroom or spend five minutes solving a crossword puzzle, I imagine that you probably think your customers are out to swindle you as well.

Which indicates that you may have a perception of inequity in your mind about constitutes value.

In order to give remarkable customer service externally, you have to start by doing so internally. If you want others to value the service your business offers, you first have to value the team that makes it happen.

Tony Gareri

CEO & Culture Enthusiast

Drawing from firsthand experiences, Tony addresses how a culture evolution can lead to improved business results and happier work environments.

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